Guardiola reflects on 'tough' Champions League exit for Man City
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Manchester City are set to rival Manchester United for the transfer of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, according to reports. The Netherlands international could be on the move this summer, with the La Liga giants said to be open to a £60million deal due to their recent financial troubles.
Erling Haaland has already been identified as one of Pep Guardiola’s top targets for the summer, with various reports indicating a deal is close for the prolific Borussia Dortmund striker. However, the upcoming departure of City legend Fernandinho has led to De Jong also being shortlisted as a priority target according to the Times.
De Jong was one of the breakout stars of Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, and snubbed interest from City and United that summer to seal his move to Barcelona. The midfielder has been a first-team regular under successive managers at the Nou Camp, but the club’s well-documented debt has led to speculation that the 24-year-old could be viewed as a sellable asset.
The Red Devils are also said to remain in the running for a deal for De Jong, with the prospect of reuniting with former manager Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford on offer. Despite the talk of a potential exit, Barcelona boss Xavi insists the former Ajax star remains an ‘important’ player in his rebuild
Speaking last week after substituting De Jong in the defeat at Rayo Vallecano, Xavi told reporters: “He has to be a player that makes the difference and he does. There aren’t many players with his quality in the world. He’s the present and the future [at Barca].
“He is a very important player for me. He’s capable, strong, he gets into the box. He has had some excellent games, but he has to be consistent.” Barcelona are planning a number of summer moves themselves, including an audacious swoop for Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.
City, meanwhile, must shake off their Champions League disappointment if they are to retain their Premier League title, with the gap to Liverpool standing at just one point with four matches remaining. The summer could see further departures, with the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling all entering the final year of their contracts.
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