Dutch international midfielder Frenkie de Jong has been the subject of serious interest from both Manchester United and - more recently - Chelsea this summer as the pair of Premier League giants look to add serious quality to the heart of their respective midfield options during the transfer window.
Despite earlier reports suggesting he was open to a move away from Barcelona, the 25-year-old former AFC Ajax academy graduate is in no rush to distance himself from the Camp Nou and prefers to stay with the La Liga outfit, with the Catalan club now in a position to try to force him out the door before the window closes.
But despite his situation on Spain’s east coast being far from ideal, De Jong has refused to join Manchester United this summer after the Red Devils pin-pointed the Gorinchem native as their prime target after securing Dutch tactician Erik ten Hag as the new headmaster at Old Trafford.
Per The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan, three key factors are at play regarding why De Jong is wholly opposed to swapping Catalunya for the northwest of England.
Without question, moving from Barcelona to Manchester United in its current iteration is an unquestioned step down for the Dutch midfield fulcrum, with Barça showing considerable improvement under Xavi last season to finish runner-up in La Liga behind bitter rivals Real Madrid despite the club’s horrendous start to the season under Ronald Koeman.
By comparison, United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjær only to put faith in Ralf Rangnick for the rest of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign with only a sixth place finish to show for their efforts while issues ran rampant from keeping key personnel happy to a tactical conundrum that was inexcusable given a club of its stature and prestige.
With the move to put Ten Hag in charge at the Theatre of Dreams, a move for De Jong was first thought to be given a boost given their previous relationship at Ajax which included the club’s fantastic run to the semi-finals of the Champions League during the 2018-19 season.
That relationship is now said to not be as strong as many would have thought, however, with their connection said to be “not particularly special” and certainly not strong enough to convince De Jong to ply his trade in United red in the coming season.
To make matters worse, and likely next-to-impossible to rectify from a United standpoint, De Jong is adamant in his desire to remain at a club that is playing Champions League football in the coming season.
Though United are on the road to potentially rectifying their current standing in the Premier League after finishing a hefty 13-points outside of the top four last season and will have much ground to make up given the summer windows that have taken place at both Tottenham and Arsenal, their situation is hardly ideal for a player in De Jong who is arguably one of the best in the world in his position.
And given Chelsea’s propensity to secure big names this summer after Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly already joined Thomas Tuchel’s senior squad, links to further business for one of Jules Koundé or Presnel Kimpembe could up the attractiveness of west London considerably.
Should De Jong be convinced to leave the east coast of Spain, the Blues could present a much more viable destination for the Dutch midfielder with new owner Todd Boehly intent on closing the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool as quickly as possible.
As things stand, it certainly appears that Man United will have to look elsewhere to land a key midfield asset in the wake of Paul Pogba’s second departure from the club.