Would Frenkie De Jong be a good fit for Man Utd amid transfer rumours & Fabrizio Romano claim?

The Barcelona midfielder has been linked with a move to Old Trafford and we assess whether he’d be a good signing for Manchester United.

Manchester United are being strongly linked with a move for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong, with reports even suggesting the clubs are now in direct contact over a possible transfer.

De Jong, widely regarded as one of the world’s best young midfielders, has spent the last three years at the Nou Camp but could be set for a new challenge this summer.

Should he leave Barcelona, United could pull off something of a coup by bringing the Dutch international to Old Trafford and potentially reuniting him with former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag.

We’ve rounded up the latest on the transfer saga and whether De Jong would be a good fit for United.

Recent reports claim United and Barcelona are in talks over a move for De Jong. Credit: Getty.

What’s been reported?

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In-the-know journalist Fabrizio Romano tweeted on Wednesday to claim United had ‘opened direct talks’ with Barcelona about a deal. He added the fee would be around €85m (£73m) although De Jong remains uncertain about a move to Old Trafford due to a lack of Champions League football.

Sky Sports concurred with that and claimed initial talks had been opened between the two clubs, however, added there are ‘significant obstacles’ which could stop a transfer from being concluded and other midfielders are on United’s radar

Meanwhile, separate reports from Spain last month claimed United were interested in making a bid for De Jong, with a fee of around £85m first mooted, before it was said elsewhere a figure would be closer to £58m.

What’s De Jong said?

The Dutchman made little secret of his desire to remain at Barcelona this summer, during a recent interview with ESPN.

De Jong has earned 41 international caps to date. Credit: Getty.

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"Of course I hear about the links to Manchester United, but the people in charge of the club [Barcelona] didn’t tell me anything,” he told the outlet.

“So then I will assume there is no agreement, and that nothing is going on. So then I won’t worry about it too.

“I prefer to stay in Barcelona, I’ve said it before,” he added. “Barca is the club of my dreams since I was little. “If other clubs call I’ll take the call, of course; it’s something that’s always done.”

The midfielder also said in February: “I’m very happy to be at Barcelona. “I’ve wanted to be here since I was little so it’s been a dream come true.”

Meanwhile, he wrote in an Instagram post at the end of the 2021/22 season that he will ‘work hard to do better next season’.

What does De Jong offer?

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De Jong was brought in as a long-term replacement for the Xavi-Andrea Iniesta partnership in midfield.

Like the former Barca men, De Jong has a great range of passing and rarely misses the target when laying the ball off to a team-mate.

De Jong is comfortable dribbling at opposition defences. Credit: Getty.

The 25-year-old has the ability to dictate the pace of a game from the base of midfield, or push higher forward and look to advance with the ball and thread passes into dangerous attacking areas.

De Jong is also not afraid to take on an opposition player and has a deceptively quick turn of pace. Not a natural goalscorer or ball-winner, the former Ajax man is definitely most at home in a box-to-box role.

What do United need in midfield?

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The departures of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba could have left United two bodies light in midfield, although at least one of those will be offset by Donny van de Beek returning.

James Garner might also be an option for Ten Hag next season following his loan spell at Nottingham Forest, so numbers-wise United’s midfield looks ok.

But in terms of quality there is still a lot missing. Scott McTominay and Fred are all-energy midfielders, more suited to winning possession and driving forward than shielding a back four. Meanwhile, Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes are more creative and attacking presences.

Garner is actually the most similar midfielder to De Jong stylistically, although there is a huge increase in quality with the latter.

What United really lack in midfield is someone who can protect the defence, a player of a similar ilk to Rodri or Fabinho. In a previous podcast, Wilfred Ndidi was suggested as the type of midfielder United would most benefit from, rather than a technical-proficient operator.

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That’s not to say De Jong should be overlooked, and one of the Red Devils’ biggest issues last season was how opposition sides determined the flow and pace of the game, something De Jong could counteract by keeping the ball ticking over the middle.

Our verdict - does a move make sense?

While De Jong isn’t perhaps the sort of midfielder that United most desperately need at present, there’s no denying he would be a massive upgrade and bring something to the squad that is currently lacking.

His range of passing, control over games and ability to motor forward in possession would be a huge asset to United.

If the opportunity to sign De Jong presents itself, Ten Hag simply cannot turn the move down. Having a midfielder like the Barca No.21 could also bring the best out of McTominay or Fred and allow them to solely concentrate on regaining possession rather than also redistributing it.

Whether a deal happens or not is a different matter, however, and De Jong’s comments and recent reports suggest it’s a deal that could prove extremely complicated to arrange.