Manchester United have reportedly been alerted to Frenkie de Jong’s post-match interview issued on Friday night, in which he claimed he was better suited to Holland’s style of play over Barcelona’s. The Dutchman was exquisite playing as a deep-lying No 6 as Louis van Gaal’s side romped to a 4-1 win over Belgium in their Nations League group opener.
The United target was starting almost every Holland attack by collecting the ball off the backline and moving it forward to the attackers.
Yet it’s a different role to the one he has been used to playing this season under Xavi at Barcelona, where he is operating as a No 8.
De Jong said: “I like to be the first player to receive the ball from the defenders. In the national team I play differently from Barca. And I think this suits me better.”
According to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, United have reportedly taken confidence from the comments because Erik ten Hag knows how to get the best from his former player.
“I will not go into that [the links to United]. Not even about other names or clubs. I used to be naive and open-minded about it. I don’t do that anymore. I understand that that link is made.
“That sum is not that difficult, it is logical. I have enjoyed working with Ten Hag at Ajax – and I can’t look into the future, of course. But I prefer to stay at Barcelona.”
De Jong wants to be the future of Barcelona’s midfield alongside Pedri and Gavi, although it’s unlikely to stop United from trying to sign the Dutch international.
“That has always been my dream club and it still is,” he added. “As long as I don’t hear from the club management, I assume nothing is going on.”
United are looking to sign at least two central midfielders this summer after confirming the departures of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba.
James Garner will be assessed in pre-season but Ten Hag is determined to recruit smartly in the centre of the park.
As of now, United remain fixated on landing De Jong and appear to be ignoring the continuous signals that a move is increasingly difficult to do.
Barcelona value De Jong at close to £70m and that would be the asking price if they were to become more open-minded about a sale.