Manchester United have had a backlash 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 loves landing the Dutch international as part of his Old Trafford rebuild, with the pair enjoying success during their time together at Ajax. However, De Jong has said he likes to fight for his place among the Spanish giants.
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“I’d rather stay at Barcelona,” De Jong told ESPN on Tuesday.
“Barcelona is just my dream club. Even from a young age. I just said it too. I have never regretted my choice despite the fact that I had hoped for more prizes than before. But I have never regretted my kar. “
De Jong won the Dutch title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League under Ten Hag at Ajax before moving to Barça in 2019, but he went through a difficult early period at the club. Barça finished a distant second in this season’s LaLiga behind bitter rivals Real Madrid, who also won the Champions League, while Xavi’s team lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals.
Sources told ESPN that Ten Hag wants to test Barça’s resolution this summer with a bid on De Jong, despite his desire to stay at Camp Nou.
Barça can still relieve De Jong because the club continues to suffer from financial difficulties. Their spending limit has been reduced by LaLiga to minus – € 144 million – it’s the only negative limit in the league – and they can only spend 25% of any savings on salary or transfer costs until they work within their limit.
De Jong, valued at around € 75 million, is one of Barça’s most expensive assets, but the 26-year-old has said there has been no contact with Ten Hag or United.
He added: “From what I say, there is absolutely no agreement or anything official. At the moment there is no question at all.
“Not that I know at all. Or they should not have told me, but I do not think so.”
Meanwhile, United have appointed Andy O’Boyle as their new deputy football director. O’Boyle previously served as head of elite performances.
“I’m happy to be back at Manchester United at such an exciting time for the club, as the first team prepares for a fresh start under Erik ten Hag, and the Academy and women’s teams go from strength to strength, said O’Boyle in a statement.