Frenkie de Jong has left the door open for a potential switch to Manchester United but insists he remains happy at Barcelona. It’s no secret the Blaugrana midfielder has been Erik ten Hag’s dream target since becoming United manager, and he may still hold out hope of a reunion at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag spent the majority of his first summer transfer window after joining from Ajax chasing De Jong, one of the stars of his successful tenure in Amsterdam.
United agreed an £85million deal with cash-strapped Barcelona, which looked to end the long-winded saga that had impacted the club’s other dealings.
However, De Jong and his girlfriend were keen to remain in the sunny Spanish city, denying Ten Hag his dream signing to start his project in Manchester.
United splashed £70m to sign Casemiro from Real Madrid as an alternative later in the window and recruited Mason Mount in a £60m deal from Chelsea last summer.
But Ten Hag still has significant issues with his midfield, issues he would undoubtedly love to address by finally luring De Jong to Old Trafford.
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And the 26-year-old has given his fellow Dutchman a glimmer of hope by refusing to rule out pursuing a new challenge after his fifth season at Barcelona.
He told NOS: “Possibly [a new challenge interests me]. But I am very satisfied at Barcelona. It’s always difficult to say. For now, I feel good here.”
Ten Hag didn’t hide his admiration for De Jong ahead of United’s Europa League knockout play-off tie against Barcelona last season.
In February, as the Red Devils prepared to visit the Nou Camp for the first leg, the 53-year-old was unsurprisingly questioned about De Jong.
“In 2019, there was a lot of fascination with that Ajax team. Frenkie brought a lot of that fascination, and he has developed over the following years in Spain,” Ten Hag explained.
“He’s a fantastic player and has become even better. Playing out from the back, he always has time.
“It was a pleasure working with him. He would strengthen any squad in the world. He’s got unique quality.”
United are expected to prioritise the centre-back and striker markets at the end of the season, with high-profile exits expected in both areas.
However, De Jong’s potential availability could tempt Ten Hag to alter his strategy. For now, though, he seemingly remains settled in Catalonia.