The 25-year-old is reportedly up for sale at the Camp Nou, having failed to consistently impress the Blaugrana faithful after leaving Ajax three years ago. It was in Amsterdam where Erik ten Hag made De Jong a star early on in his glittering tenure, as Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
Now new Red Devils manager Ten Hag wants to reunite with the midfielder at Old Trafford and make him his first signing during the summer transfer window. Deportes Cuarto claim that opposite number Xavi has endorsed the move and wants to refresh Barca’s midfield with additions such as out-of-contract AC Milan ace Franck Kessie.
De Jong was signed by Barcelona for £65million and is expected to depart for a similar fee, with numerous Catalan media outlets predicting that the transfer will happen in the coming weeks. Due to their financial plight and losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Blaugrana will be forced to sell a high-earner this summer, with the Netherlands international one of those.
Xavi revealed before the latest reports: “I haven’t talked with him about his future. He is playing at a very good level and has to continue here – he can be one of the best midfielders in the world for years to come. If it were up to me, I would continue here for many more years. He is very important and can mark an era here. He has to score, assist and he has to be the protagonist.”
It may be that the Barca boss has reluctantly accepted his club’s predicament, though, with De Jong telling The Guardian in February that it was his “dream” to play at the Camp Nou.
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“I’m very happy I’m at Barcelona: from a young age I’ve wanted to be here, so in that way it has been a dream come true,” he declared. “But I would have liked to win more trophies than we did in my first two years. I expected more in that sense, let’s put it that way. But other than that, I’m very happy here and hopefully for many more years.”
On Thursday, Ten Hag held a meeting in Amsterdam to lay out his transfer blueprint. Joining him was United Football Director John Murtough, Ajax assistant Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McCalren, who is also set to join him in the Old Trafford dugout. It is believed that the Dutch tactician wants to sign two midfielders, a versatile forward and a centre-back this summer.