Manchester City join the race for Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong as the Barcelona star sits on top of their list
According to The Times (Subscription Required), Manchester City have placed Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong on top of their summer transfer wishlist as they look to bring in three new players, providing a blow to Manchester United.
de Jong moved to Barcelona in 2019 from Ajax, securing a move to Spain after impressing the La Liga giants with his performances in Holland. He was part of the young Amsterdam side that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, earning plaudits from the footballing world.
Both the Manchester clubs tried to sign the Dutchman back then, but lost out to Barca in the end. Now, the two English sides, along with Bayern Munich, are said to battle it out again for the 24-year-old in the summer.
Pep Guardiola is keen to add reinforcements to his squad after he oversaw his team crash out of the semi-finals of the Champions League recently, losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in the second leg of the competition after blowing a two-goal lead on aggregate during the match.
Manchester sides to battle for de Jong
Although City have no immediate transfer planned for the summer as the club shift its focus on winning the Premier League, Guardiola is keen to sign a striker and a holding midfielder. The manager will also bring back Julián Álvarez from his loan spell at River Plate, after signing him in January.
A new defensive midfield option will be necessary ahead of the new season, given that Fernandinho is set to depart at the end of the current campaign when his contract expires. de Jong is eyed as a potential replacement for the Brazilian, but the defending English champions must pay around £60m to prise him away from Barca.
Guardiola will still have Rodrigo and Ilkay Gundogan to slot into the vacant holding midfielder role if needed, but the Spaniard is keen to add another player to his squad to bolster his side after the disappointment of crashing out of Europe this term.
In comparison, United have more of a need for a defensive midfielder than their city rivals. Nemanja Matic is the only holding midfield option in the first team, and with the player announcing his departure in the summer, the squad is stretched thin in the middle of the pitch.
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Fred and Scott McTominay have tried their hand at playing in that role, but neither of them has proven to be reliable or consistent enough to claim the position as their own. de Jong could come in and solve this issue of depth and quality in midfield troubling the Red Devils, although a tough transfer battle with City could then ensue.
One area that the Old Trafford outfit would be wise to explore would be that of their new manager Erik ten Hag and his past relationship with de Jong at Ajax. Only time will tell if ten Hag’s presence could work in the team’s favour in the summer but there is nothing right now that indicates it would be. If he moves to United, de Jong would also reunite with Donny van de Beek, whose loan spell at Everton expires this summer.