Man Utd's worst ever Premier League season
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Manchester United have reportedly contacted Frenkie De Jong’s entourage ahead of their summer search for a new midfielder. Erik ten Hag has made a replacement for Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba one of three priority positions in his first transfer window as manager and could reunite with the former Ajax ace.
According to ESPN, United have approached De Jong’s team to understand his position on a potential Barcelona exit this summer. The report claims he will decide where his future lies at the end of the season amid suggestions the La Liga giants could be looking to cash in on him.
It comes as no surprise that Ten Hag’s arrival has sparked speculation linking De Jong with a potential move to Old Trafford. The 24-year-old lifted the Dutch Eredivisie and KNVB Cup double in his final season in Amsterdam before joining Barcelona in a £65million deal.
He was a stalwart of Peter Bosz’s exciting Ajax side that were beaten by United in the 2017 Europa League final before Ten Hag guided them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. And with Pogba set to leave on a free transfer on July 1, the Dutchman will undoubtedly have to fill the void he’ll leave behind.
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There have been some suggestions that United are targeting De Jong as a new defensive midfielder, a priority position to strengthen along with a centre-back and striker. However, the Netherlands international has flourished more as a box-to-box star.
In 2019, Ten Hag explained that De Jong’s best role isn’t as a holding midfielder but when he has the freedom to transition the play with the ball and support forwards. His comments suggest if United are eyeing him, it will likely be to replace Pogba rather than Matic.
He said: “Well, like I said, the players’ qualities determine how you play. Take Frenkie de Jong. We have really been looking to find ways to use his skills in the best manner. Where can he play best for the team and showcase his talent? Everyone was screaming: Frenkie is the biggest talent, etc. etc. Well yes. But where? In midfield? Ok, but which role? His quality is that he makes the forwards perform better. He is a wanderer, an adventurer; he’s always on the move, like a shark. With the ball, often, but also without the ball.
“So if you put him on sixes, he’s away too often. But you need to give him freedom. Otherwise, you can’t get the best out of him. It wasn’t an easy puzzle, so I decided to play with two number sixes and only one attacking mid. And in this way, we can also dominate the half-space and force opponents to choose. So on the first day of pre-season, that is how we started. And we started without Frenkie, by the way, as he wasn’t fit at the start of the pre-season.”
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