'A mistake' - Sporting director makes transfer admission regarding £170m pair linked with Man Utd

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Manchester United could return with interest in the summer as Erik ten Hag looks to rebuild his squad.

Barcelona sporting director Deco admits it would be a 'mistake' to sell Ronald Araujo and Frenkie de Jong but refused to rule out the possibility of it happening in the summer.

Manchester United have been linked with both Araujo and De Jong, the former of which is a reported transfer target this summer. Interest in De Jong was serious during Erik ten Hag's first summer in charge and the Dutchman spent much of that window chasing his compatriot.

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Barcelona remain under tight financial constraints and have been tipped to offload some of their more valuable stars in order to fund a wider rebuild of the squad. And while Deco insists he wants to keep top players, the Blaugrana transfer chief did not objectively call off any exits.

"We’d like not to sell any top players in the summer," Deco said in quotes relayed by Fabrizio Romano. "It’d be a mistake to sell Araujo and Frenkie de Jong. I’d like to improve the squad... not to sell players."

Barcelona's firm stance on their two stars means any proposal will likely need to be one they cannot refuse. De Jong and Araujo have both been valued around the €100million (£85.4m) mark.

Links to De Jong beyond the summer of 2022 were speculative, with United seemingly moving on from the midfielder after Ten Hag's first summer. They did see an offer accepted by Barcelona but after a delay over deferred wages owed to the 26-year-old halted proceedings and the Reds eventually signed Casemiro for £70m.

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Interest in Araujo has surfaced more recently, with United eyeing defensive reinforcements in the summer. Ten Hag is keen to lower the age profile in that area of the pitch and is expected to bring in at least one world-class option. United will almost certainly lose Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans when their respective contracts expire in the summer, while the future of Harry Maguire - up for sale last summer - remains uncertain.

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