What Manchester United think about Frenkie de Jong’s ‘public attachment’ to Barcelona

De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links

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Manchester United reportedly think Frenkie de Jong’s public attachment to Barcelona is ‘tantamount to a contractual obligation’, according to reports. Erik ten Hag is refusing to give up on the Barcelona star. Yet after nearly three months of negotiating, the Red Devils have been unable to land their main target.

Manchester United have been locked in talks with Barcelona for De Jong for over 12 weeks.

The midfielder was swiftly identified as a target by Ten Hag upon taking over from Ralf Rangnick, with the pair previously having a good relationship at Ajax.

United have agreed an initial £63million for the 25-year-old and Barcelona want to sell so they can register new signings such as Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessie, Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen.

And the Manchester Evening News say that, when it comes to De Jong’s public stance, the Red Devils think that’s merely because he’s under contract.

They also think De Jong is bound to talk up Barcelona when he’s owed money by the club, too.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic back in 2020, the midfielder agreed to a temporary pay cut to help the Catalan giants’ financial situation.

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Barcelona now owe the Netherlands international between £14m and £17m in deferred wages, an amount they’re reluctant to pay in full.

Yet there have been suggestions that United could now fork out that amount in order to ensure they land their man.

Publicly, De Jong has twice been asked about the Red Devils in recent months.

In May, when quizzed on interest from Ten Hag and United, he made it clear that his preference would be to stay at the Nou Camp.

“I used to be reckless when I was asked about other clubs, that time has passed,” said the 25-year-old, who was on international duty at the time.

“I can’t say anything about that but I prefer to stay at Barcelona.

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“I have already said it before, Barcelona are the club of my dreams since I was little.

“If other clubs call I will take the call, of course. It is something that is always done.”

And, in June, he added: “You are always flattered when teams show interest in you as a player.

“But I think I am at the biggest club in the world at the moment, I feel fine there, so no news.”

United will be hoping to avoid missing out on De Jong, having failed to acquire many top targets in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

David Moyes wanted Cesc Fabregas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale – only to end up signing Marouane Fellaini from Everton instead.

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Louis van Gaal acquired none of his main aims during his time in the dugout, having set his sights on the likes of Sergio Ramos, Thomas Muller, Neymar and Mats Hummels.

Jose Mourinho was frustrated at United for being unable to snap up the likes of Harry Maguire, Antoine Griezmann and Toby Alderweireld.

And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted Ruben Neves last summer, with the Wolves star then deemed too expensive.

Speaking recently, meanwhile, Barcelona chief Joan Laporta recently insisted he wanted De Jong to stay.

But he also did hint at a potential move to United for the player, saying: “In football, you never know. I can’t say categorically.

“It all depends on the different parties. But in principle, I can say there is a strong possibility he stays, and I can say as president I will do my best for him to stay at Barcelona.

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“The first thing to say is we want Frenkie to stay at Barcelona. We love the player and him as a human being. I want him to stay at Barcelona. He’s a high-quality player and a good guy. I also know that he wants to stay.”

And he added: “All we are doing with Frenkie is the same as the rest of the squad.

“The signings coming in have adjusted their salary to the new structure. But Frenkie has a contract and we respect that. We can’t force him to take a pay cut. It’s his decision

“We are trying to manage the football club in a prudent and sustainable way. So we have to have these talks and we do so in a calm and considered way.

“We have explained the situation and are grateful to any players who can help us. It was the same with Dembele and I am very grateful to him. And after months of talks, he accepted a renegotiation of his salary and he can be proud of his decision.

“[If De Jong doesn’t take a pay cut] Then he will continue. Has has a contract. We will respect that decision. For us, he’s a Barcelona player. We count on him.”

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