Manchester United are continuing their pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
The proposed transfer, which is worth a total of €85m with €75m in guaranteed payments, has been agreed with the Catalan giants, as reported on Thursday. United sources have indicated to 90min however that the delay on the deal remains the deferred wages issue between De Jong and his current club.
De Jong is owed as much as £17m in payments the Dutchman agreed to delay to help Barcelona navigate a difficult financial climate during the pandemic, though that money is now owed back to him. It’s understood that De Jong and his representatives want the issue resolved before any departure.
United remain confident the player wants to join them, despite a number of reports to the contrary emerging from Spain in recent hours. Manager Erik ten Hag has spoken to the player and insists he is open to the move within the United ranks. To this point, United feel they have done everything they can to push the transfer through.
A battle of wills between De Jong’s representatives and Barcelona is heating up. Barcelona have told De Jong to leave the club due to economic circumstances, not sporting ones, and need the money made and saved from the 25-year-old’s sale to register new players who have signed. Head coach Xavi would like to keep the player but understands the overall circumstances.
Listen now to 90min’s Talking Transfers podcast, with Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey, Harry Symeou & Toby Cudworth. On the latest show they discuss Chelsea’s interest in Antony and Serge Gnabry, why Man Utd have still not signed Frenkie de Jong, Man City’s pursuit of Marc Cucurella and more. Available on all audio platforms and the 90min YouTube channel.
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Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen, signed on free transfers, are as yet unregistered with the league, while Ousmane Dembele is in the same boat after re-signing on reduced terms after his contract expired on June 30. Barcelona will also present Raphinha on Friday, who can’t yet be registered, while they want to move forward in their pursuit of Robert Lewandowski.
Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta are also among their transfer targets.
De Jong’s camp appear to be ready to continue to dig their heels in until the deferred payments issue has been resolved. The current stance on not wanting to leave is explained by advice from the camp’s own legal team – to not give Barcelona any reason to suggest the player has acted improperly and any reason or leverage to withhold money.
Barcelona, meanwhile, cannot as it stands afford to pay the annual salary of De Jong over the next four years – worth a total of €88.5m during that time – so are continuing their attempts to force him out. They have made it clear to the player that he should take a wage cut, which De Jong’s camp refuse to do, or leave the club, which won’t be considered until the deferred payments issue is sorted out.
A key development in the saga may come when it’s clear whether or not De Jong will travel with the squad on their pre-season tour of the United States. They leave on Saturday.
Elsewhere, United are set to confirm the signing of Lisandro Martinez from Ajax for a fee of €55m. He will become their second signing of the summer, penning a deal until 2027, and the plan is for the player to join the club’s pre-season tour of Australia in the coming days. The Argentinian has rejected a move to Arsenal and the two clubs have finalised all terms this week.
Christian Eriksen is also set to sign a three-year deal worth £150,000 a week after completing extensive medical examinations.