Man Utd face battle to seal De Jong transfer with three better-placed rivals waiting in wings to sign Barcelona star


ERIK  TEN  HAG  desperately wants to be reunited with Frenkie de Jong as he kick-starts his Manchester United revolution.

The former England chief met Ten Hag at an Amsterdam summit, along with the new manager’s No 2 Mitchell van der Gaag and United’s football director John Murtough.


Man Utd face a tough fight to recruit Erik ten Hag’s main target Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona as other big clubs hoverCredit: Rex
Former England manager Steve McClaren could soon return to Man Utd on incoming Ten Hag's backroom staff


Former England manager Steve McClaren could soon return to Man Utd on incoming Ten Hag’s backroom staffCredit: PA

And Steve McClaren moved closer to an Old Trafford return after high-level talks yesterday.

And Barcelona’s ex-Ajax star De Jong emerged as Ten Hag’s top summer target at the get-together.

The meeting took place less than 24 hours after Ten Hag — who labelled his new job ‘a fantastic challenge with something to build and win’ — clinched the Dutch title with Ajax.

But United admit it  will be tough to get the playmaker away from  Barcelona and also fight off interest from the likes of Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and neighbours Manchester City.

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The Red Devils’ rivals can all offer Champions League football and the chance of winning Europe’s biggest prize while United could yet end up in the Europa Conference League.

Ten Hag has prioritised two midfielders, with Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic on their way out at the end of the season, as well as a striker and centre-half.

The problem is there is no great desire from De Jong to leave the Nou Camp and will only be sold if the financial status of the Spanish giants requires it.

Even then, the price tag for the Dutch international could prove prohibitive.


The 25-year-old still has two years left of his current contract and Barca would want back most of the £75million they paid to Ajax for him back in 2019 when he worked under Ten Hag.

SunSport revealed this week that United only have a spending budget in the region of £100million, although payments for players can be structured over a number of years.

They have been instructing agents to seek out the best free buys to supplement any spending, with outgoing interim boss Ralf Rangnick insisting United may need as many as ten players to get themselves sorted out.

De Jong is said to be upset at reports that he was in advanced talks to leave Barcelona for Old Trafford.

While United have registered their interest with Barca and the players representatives, they accept there is a long way to go before any deal could be tied up, if at all.

But the second coming of McClaren at Old Trafford seems more imminent.

It’s not for nothing they call Old Trafford the Theatre of Dreams. I’ve also researched the present and future. And the possibilities.

Erik ten Hag

The 61-year-old was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant from 1999-2001 before going on to manage Middlesbrough.

But his presence at the meeting is the clearest indication yet that he will be involved in Ten Hag’s backroom staff.

Ten Hag yesterday discussed his new job and said: “Despite it being a beautiful club, I would never just start. I wanted to create good working conditions first, so every detail had to be taken care of.

“Everyone knows their history. It is impressive. Sir Alex (Ferguson), of course, but further back in time as well. Their great team in the late 50s that suddenly disappeared after the plane crash.

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“It’s a club with allure in international football. It felt like a difficult, but fantastic challenge.

“At United, there’s something to build and something to win.

“Manchester United is such a big name in the history of football.

“It’s not for nothing they call Old Trafford the Theatre of Dreams. I’ve also researched the present and future. And the possibilities.”

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