Man Utd chiefs have fresh Frenkie de Jong fear as transfer saga rumbles on

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Manchester United are reportedly concerned that Barcelona are going to insist on an unrealistic transfer fee for midfielder Frenkie de Jong. United are interested in signing De Jong this summer for new manager Erik ten Hag, but are reportedly growing tired with Barca’s negotiation tactics.

Central midfield is a key area for United in the summer transfer window due to the departures of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard at the end of the month. As things stand, Ten Hag will be forced to work with a depleted squad this summer, with the middle of the park a particular concern.

De Jong has been identified as a key target, with Ten Hag keen to work again with a player who he shaped at Ajax. The problem is that De Jong still has four years left on his Barca contract and the club are eager to maximise any transfer fee United pay.

Barcelona paid Ajax £65million, plus a further £9.5m in add-ons, when the transfer was agreed in January 2019 and they are now in dire need of funds. The Spanish giants have been open about the damage that the Covid-19 pandemic and their previous missteps in the transfer market have caused, with a whopping £1bn of debt limiting their efforts in the current transfer window.

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According to ESPN, Barcelona are happy to sell De Jong, but are insisting on a fee of £86m (€100m) for his signature. Barca are said to be trying to offload De Jong in order to facilitate their own transfer plans.

The Catalan side have agreed deals for Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen and AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, but cannot currently register them due to financial restrictions. They are desperate to sell fringe players to free up space, but see De Jong as a simpler way of achieving their goals.

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United want the Dutchman, but are unwilling to play Barcelona’s game at the negotiation table and are currently sticking to their valuation of around £52m (€60m) with add-ons for the 25-year-old midfielder. Meanwhile, they have also made an offer to Christian Eriksen, who can be signed as a free agent at the end of the month if he doesn’t decide to join Brentford or Tottenham.

De Jong is far from the only player Barcelona could sell this summer. Martin Braithwaite, Luuk de Jong, Oscar Mingueza, Francisco Trincao, Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet, Miralem Pjanic have all been put up for sale while Memphis Depay and Riqui Puig could also depart.

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