Manchester United’s contract for Frenkie de Jong is under more pressure than ever. Chelsea are also looking to sign the midfielder and are reportedly even willing to match the Red Devils’ initial offer of £63million to sign the player. So if that’s the case, it may be time for Donny van de Beek to step into the operation…
Manchester United first opened talks for De Jong in May, shortly after it was confirmed that Erik ten Hag would be the permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
And while the Red Devils have agreed a fee with Barcelona for the 25-year-old, a deal is at stake.
United are still relaxed about De Jong’s situation with Ten Hag, Richard Arnold and John Murtough all willing to be patient as they try to get a deal across the line.
But Chelsea pose a real threat, especially given the way they can offer the Dutch international both a chance to play in the Champions League and to live in London.
The Blues have spent a lot this summer on Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling – who have landed from Brighton, Napoli and Manchester City respectively.
But they are not ready yet. Far from.
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With N’Golo Kante entering the twilight of his career, Chelsea are now looking for a long-term replacement for the France international.
And now that Barcelona are open to selling De Jong, no matter what they say publicly, they are ready to match United’s offer for the player.
If so, the Red Devils may soon have to find ways to ensure they have the upper hand for the 25-year-old.
And Van de Beek could be key.
Certainly United have insisted that the Netherlands international be part of their plans for the future – especially in the wake of Ten Hag’s appointment.
But he has done nothing during his time in English football to justify being given that opportunity.
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Even in pre-season it was hard to make minutes – with Ten Hag preferring to go with Scott McTominay and Fred.
And that looks even more devastating when you consider how the Red Devils lost the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata over the summer.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the man who brought Van de Beek back from Ajax in the summer transfer window of 2020.
But there is still no route for him on the team to his favorite number 10 position.
United already have Bruno Fernandes as their number one man in that area, having seen the Portugal international impress during his two-and-a-half years in English football.
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And they have also strengthened their options with the transfer of Christian Eriksen.
So why should Barcelona take Van de Beek?
They want a playmaker to supply the ammunition for the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres and Memphis Depay to fire.
And Van de Beek was on their radar for his move to Old Trafford two years ago.
There has always been interest from Barcelona, especially considering how the former Ajax star would fit into their system.
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So including him in a swap deal, on top of the £63million, could be the best choice.
Admittedly, it would do United short. They still need a whole midfield overhaul, rather than just De Jong.
But their determination to land the Netherlands internationally is so strong that it can be a worthwhile sacrifice.
Barcelona’s preference would be Bernardo Silva, but Manchester City are likely to demand a lot of money to let the Portugal international go.
Step forward Van de Beek, who still has to live up to the bill after 24 months at United.
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