Manchester United have suffered a setback in their pursuit of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, with the midfielder telling ESPN he would prefer to stay at Camp Nou.
New United manager Erik ten Hag is keen to land the Netherlands international as part of his rebuild at Old Trafford, with the pair enjoying success during their time at Ajax together. However, De Jong says he is eager to fight for his place at the Spanish giants.
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“I prefer to stay at Barcelona,” De Jong told ESPN on Tuesday.
“Barcelona is just my dream club. Also since I was young. I just said that too. I have never regretted my choice despite the fact that I had hoped for more in terms of price than what I have got so far. But I’ve never regretted my choice.”
De Jong won the Dutch title and reached the Champions League semi-finals under Ten Hag at Ajax before joining Barca in 2019, but he endured a difficult start at the club. Barca finished a distant second in La Liga this season behind bitter rivals Real Madrid, who also won the Champions League, while Xavi’s side lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals .
Sources have told ESPN that Ten Hag wants to test Barca’s resolve this summer with an offer for De Jong, despite his desire to stay at Camp Nou.
Barca could yet offload De Jong as the club continue to suffer financial difficulties. Their spending limit has been reduced to minus €144m by LaLiga – it’s the only negative cap in the league – and they can only spend 25% of any savings on wages or transfer fees up to that they operate within their limit.
De Jong, who is valued at around €75m, is one of Barca’s most expensive assets but the 26-year-old says there has been no contact with Ten Hag or United.
He added: “What I’m saying, there’s absolutely nothing about an agreement or anything official. Right now there’s absolutely no talk of it.
“Not that I know of anyway. Or they must not have told me, but I don’t think so.”
Meanwhile, United have appointed Andy O’Boyle as their new assistant director of football, having previously been responsible for elite performance.
“I am delighted to join Manchester United at such an exciting time for the club, as the first team prepares for a fresh start under Erik ten Hag, and as the Academy and women’s teams go from strength to strength,” O’ said. Boyle in a statement.