Manchester United are reportedly keen on signing Frenkie de Jong this summer. But, with Barcelona making it clear they want him to stay and the midfielder himself wanting to play in the Champions League, a move to Old Trafford seems unlikely. So that begs the question: is it all a smokescreen?
Manchester United want a new midfielder this summer.
Nemanja Matic has already confirmed he’ll be on the move, with Jose Mourinho hoping to reunite with the Serbia international at Roma.
And Paul Pogba is increasingly likely to leave on a free transfer, with Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain battling it out for the 29-year-old.
United will still have the likes of Donny van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Scott McTominay at their disposal.
But Ten Hag knows the Red Devils require more if they’re to win a first Premier League title since 2013, back when Sir Alex Ferguson was manager.
And links to De Jong have arisen in recent weeks with reports suggesting the Barcelona star is on their radar.
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In recent years, the Red Devils have pulled some deals out of the bag – seemingly from nowhere.
Nobody had got wind Radamel Falcao would move to Old Trafford on loan from Monaco in 2014, with the striker arriving on a thrilling transfer deadline day.
Likewise Anthony Martial 12 months later, with the France international relatively unknown at the time.
Under Jose Mourinho, United signed Eric Bailly with few knowing the news in the days, weeks and months before the deal was struck.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was another shock coup in 2016, with the Armenia international previously looking likely to join Arsenal or Liverpool instead.
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And United have continued the trend since, too.
While Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire were obvious signings in 2019, Daniel James was one that came out of the blue.
And few had got wind Donny van de Beek was heading to Old Trafford two years ago, with Real Madrid likelier suitors instead.
Edinson Cavani, that same year, was another surprise signing given the club had spent the whole summer chasing Jadon Sancho.
So there’s certainly a reason to think there’s more to this De Jong saga than meets the eye.
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Especially when you consider how United are interested in a plethora of different players, too.
They’re supposedly continuing to work on a deal for Kalvin Phillips, even though prising him away from Leeds will be easier said than done.
Declan Rice is their dream target and, with the West Ham star refusing to sign a new contract, the Red Devils have reason to be hopeful.
And then there’s Ruben Neves, who seems to have been under consideration for a number of years.
De Jong may be of interest, but it’s unlikely. And whether United have other ideas, ultimately, is something only time will tell.