The midfielder has been rumoured to rejoin Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.

FC Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong is close to joining Manchester United. Sources in Spain claim that the move is almost complete with Erik ten Hag pushing for the player. The new permanent manager at MUFC will need better quality players to turn the fortunes around at the club. The troubling financial state of the La Liga giants and the willingness of the Premier League outfit make the transfer all the more likely to happen.

Manchester United registered its lowest-ever points total in the Premier League. By doing so, they missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification as well. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick indicated that the club will need seven or eight new players in order to challenge its nearest rivals.

For the club to become competitive again, they need world-class players. In terms of getting back on their perch, the 13-time English champions desperately need players like Frenkie de Jong. Here is a look at how the Dutch international will be a key signing:

Past connection with Erik ten Hag

De Jong and ten Hag worked together at Ajax (Courtesy: Barca Universal)

Before signing for FC Barcelona, Frenkie de Jong was part of the AFC Ajax squad that reached the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League in 2018-19. Erik ten Hag was still the manager of the Dutch outfit back then. The player-manager duo will be vital during the squad rebuild at MUFC. The new manager will aim to mould the new team in his own image. Signing de Jong will be a major step in that direction.

The tactician will rely on his former player to enforce the tactics on the pitch. There was a good understanding between the two individuals during their Ajax days. A repeat of that will certainly bring benefit to Manchester United.

The midfielder’s versatility

Frenkie de Jong checks a lot of boxes at once. This is his biggest asset. A player of his calibre, who can fulfil multiple roles will be essential to Manchester United. The issues in the midfield have been hurting the Red Devils for several years. Paul Pogba will likely leave in the summer followed by players like Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard. This will leave the squad weaker in this department.

The addition of de Jong will immediately improve United’s prospects. He can play as a deep-lying playmaker, shift to a box-to-box midfielder or even support Bruno Fernandes in an advanced role. Furthermore, his arrival could help ten Hag employ two forward-thinking midfielders with one defensive-midfielder for a more attack-minded setup. 

Winning mentality

Frenkie de Jong was part of Barcelona’s 2021 Copa del Rey winning team (Courtesy: FC Barcelona)

One of the major criticisms of the current Manchester United team is their lack of effort. It is simply unacceptable for a player to not give his 100% while playing for a club of Manchester United’s stature. At Ajax, de Jong was under pressure to win the league and anything short was unimaginable. At FC Barcelona, the pressure to challenge for the league title and constantly win was very obvious too. 

The midfielder helped the Blaugrana lift the Spanish Cup and will bring a winning mentality to Manchester United. Fans of the iconic English club are desperate for a trophy. The last time they won a silverware was back in 2016-17 when they won the UEFA Europa League.

A creative outlet

A major issue at Manchester United this season was the lack of creativity in the midfield. Bruno Fernandes was amongst the leading players in terms of creating chances in the Premier League. However, he did not get the ideal support from rest of the figures in this department. On occasions, he looked isolated. The attacking output sufferred since he was the sole creative outlet.

Players like Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, who are other sources of creativity, are set to leave the club. If Frenkie de Jong arrives, he will shoulder the responsibility of being the creative outlet with Fernandes. The Dutch international created three big chances (per 90 minutes) on average in La Liga for Barcelona. 

He also had a 91% passing accuracy and 85% successful dribble rate, one of the highest in the division. In contrast, Pogba had the highest dribble rate for Manchester United with 71% in the Premier League. Frenkie de Jong will be an upgrade on every player in midfield that the club currency has, perhaps barring Fernandes, and that makes him a key signing.

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