‘Frankie de Jong to Manchester United.’ That’s a sentence we first heard back in May, with most reliable sources claiming that new Red Devils boss Erik ten Haag wanted to rekindle his relationship with the Dutch midfielder after De Jong departed Ajax for Barcelona back in 2019 — leaving the now 52-year-old manager without one of his most promising stars at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
However, fast forward to the end of July and De Jong is still on the books of the cash-strapped Catalans — refusing to swap Camp Nou for Old Trafford in a transfer standoff for the ages. It’s incredibly rare for such a scenario to happen, but given that Barcelona are so desperate for money and that De Jong is their biggest asset, it’s all the more shocking he is still on their books.
It is not for the want of trying from both clubs involved though, which makes the situation even stranger. Usually, transfers are dragged out as clubs iron out the more intricate details, but Manchester United have the funds available and are keen while Barça are eager to recuperate the majority of the £65 million they spent on the 25-year-old three years ago.
While Barcelona’s financial irregularities mean De Jong is certainly in the shop window, his failure to live up to the hype that surrounded him when he arrived in Catalonia and the breakthrough of Pedri and Gavi are also reasons why the club are willing to cut their loses by banking in the Netherlands international — but the problem is, he is not so willing.
A formal bid had been placed on the table by Manchester United earlier in the summer and they were confident it was going to be enough to secure De Jong’s services, but just a matter of days later he jetted off to the United States to partake in Barcelona’s pre-season tour and he later featured off the bench to play centre back in their match against David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
De Jong was used again as a second-half substitute in the El Clásico friendly against Real Madrid at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, again featuring out of position in centre-back, and Xavi has since teased that he could use the Dutchman as a central defender next season in a bid to make his side more favourable for La Liga title with the best betting exchange.
“Frenkie? I don’t send messages. I spoke with him. I like him a lot,” the former Barcelona midfielder said. “For me, he is a fundamental footballer but there is also the economic situation and fair play.
“He can bring us a lot as a centre-back. I like him in that position.”
It seems it is De Jong’s intention to remain as a Barcelona player — a boyhood dream for most — for the foreseeable future that is drawing out this transfer saga this summer.
He has witnessed the club try repeatedly to push Ousmane Dembélé and Samuel Umtiti out and fail and perhaps feels he can do the same to keep his place.
However, De Jong’s wish to stay at the Nou Camp, and in the city of Barcelona where he has settled for that matter, does not mean he is going to and there is no doubt that this transfer saga is far from over — with the Barcelona hierarchy not going to give up on selling the 25-year-old until the window officially slams shut on September 1st and not a minute sooner.
The club usually get their way when it comes to player sales. But things seem to work differently at Barcelona, so it’s hard to really gauge how this is going to pan out over the next month. Will the club be able to bring down De Jong’s stance, or will he remain at the Nou Camp? As we have done all summer, we’re just going to have to wait and see how it develops!