De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links in June
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Manchester United are mulling over whether to abandon their pursuit of Frenkie de Jong despite spending nearly three months trying to sign the Barcelona star, according to reports. The Netherlands international remains Erik ten Hag’s top target. But with Chelsea now eyeing a hijack, the Red Devils could be forced to look elsewhere.
Manchester United identified De Jong as a priority transfer target upon appointing Ten Hag as their new manager.
But a deal for the 25-year-old is hanging in the balance, with the midfielder reluctant to leave Barcelona for Old Trafford.
Chelsea have also emerged as genuine suitors for De Jong, with Thomas Tuchel eager to bolster his squad as he looks to win the Premier League title.
And The Independent say United are mulling over whether to abandon their pursuit of the midfielder.
The Red Devils have put all their resources into a deal for De Jong, with alternatives such as Ruben Neves and Youri Tielemans presently on the back-burner.
But United know they face a fight to land the Netherlands international, especially given how Chelsea can offer the player a chance to play in the Champions League.
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That’s something the Red Devils can’t do, having finished sixth in the Premier League table amid a chaotic campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last term.
Instead, they’ll be playing in the Europa League – a tournament they reached the final of less than two years ago.
Yet if United do miss out on De Jong, it will put three people to shame at the club.
First, Ten Hag himself.
It’s the 52-year-old who has insisted United keep up their pursuit of the former Ajax star, believing a deal is there to be struck.
But if De Jong ends up moving to Chelsea or accepting a pay cut at Barcelona in order to stay, it will raise questions over his judgement.
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It will also reflect badly on John Murtough, too.
United believe Murtough is a good footballing person to have in their corner, trusting the 51-year-old to take charge of negotiations at a time where Matt Judge is primed to go.
But, like with Ten Hag, questions and scrutiny will be sure to follow if De Jong doesn’t make a blockbuster move to Old Trafford.
A third figure it would put to shame is United supremo Richard Arnold, who recently replaced Ed Woodward.
Arnold has been keen to delegate negotiations to Murtough, with the Red Devils chief determined to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor.
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But that’s a tactic that could backfire and some could call on him to take on the duty of handling talks for targets instead to ensure United don’t miss out.
For now, Ten Hag, Murtough and Arnold are staying calm.
Yet United need a midfielder and, as the clock ticks down, their need will only grow greater later in the transfer window.
Meanwhile, speaking recently, former Tottenham star Jamie O’Hara labelled United’s pursuit of De Jong as ‘embarrassing’ and urged them to move on to alternatives.
O’Hara told Sky Sports News: “Move on, move on. It’s been a joke. It’s almost embarrassing now that they’re still trying to pursue it.
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“If it hasn’t happened now, it’s not going to happen. This is Manchester United we’re talking about, one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“I know they don’t have the biggest pull anymore because of the way the club’s gone, but if the player’s still turning around saying ‘I don’t want to leave, I want to stay at Barcelona’, they’re messing around trying to sort the wages that he’s owed, just move on from him.
“There’s plenty of other top-class players out there that you can sign and you don’t want a player ending up coming to the football club almost against his will, in a way. That doesn’t sit right with me.”
And he added: “If Manchester United phoned me when I was in my prime, and a lot of players would say the same, you’re on the plane, next day ‘I’m going to Manchester United’.
“Now, if a player’s saying ‘no I don’t want to go’, then alright see you later then, we’ll get someone else.”
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