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Why Man Utd’s move to sign Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong has stalled

Frenkie de Jong remains open to moving to Manchester United despite the hold up on his proposed transfer to Old Trafford, 90min understands.

De Jong has been established as the primary transfer target in Erik ten Hag’s first summer in charge of the club, and United have been in pursuit of the Dutch midfielder since his appointment at the end of last season. United have agreed a base guaranteed fee of €65m (£56m), with add-ons in place to take the transfer to Barcelona’s asking price of around €80m.

While that agreement was reached at the end of last month, United have since failed to make progress on the deal because of contractual issues between De Jong and Barcelona.

De Jong is owed more than £17m in deferred wages and bonuses by Barcelona, after he agreed to help the club through a difficult financial period in the recent pandemic. De Jong took a drastic pay cut and extended his contract, with the deferred payments planned to be paid back from this campaign through until 2026.

Barcelona’s financial issues remain the reason for the pause in proceedings.

The Catalan giants, whose financial issues are well-documented simultaneous to their desire to sign Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta among others, are looking to use United and their money to help clear the debts owed to De Jong.

Per Barcelona’s plan, United would pay a transfer fee, whatever they agree to pay De Jong as part of his United contract, plus additional money currently owed to the player and his agents. Alternatively, Barcelona would also accept De Jong and his agents waiving owed monies in order to move the deal through.

United and De Jong’s positions, understandably, are that Barcelona should pay the money they owe.

De Jong has made no secret of his desire to stay at Barcelona but 90min understands he remains open to moving to Old Trafford if his salary issue is resolved, despite recent reports to the contrary. Ten Hag is understood to have spoken to the 25-year-old on numerous occasions over the past few weeks and there remains nothing to suggest the player wouldn’t go through with the move.

Listen now to 90min’s Talking Transfers podcast, with Scott Saunders, Graeme BaileyHarry Symeou Toby Cudworth. On the latest show they discuss Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United, Newcastle preparing to break their transfer record for Moussa Diaby, Bayern Munich’s interest in Chelsea target Matthijs de Ligt and more. Available on all audio platforms and the 90min YouTube channel.

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download the episode in full!

Ten Hag admitted in his press conference ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with Liverpool that midfield is the area he has identified as in need of strengthening, though would not be drawn on speaking about De Jong himself.

He said: “Definitely we are searching for players in the midfield, and also in offence we are still looking for players. I never talk about players who are not under contract at Man Utd, players at different clubs. I cannot tell you anything about this issue.”

De Jong returned to pre-season training with Barcelona on Monday.

Wolves’ Ruben Neves is eyed by United as a potential alternative to De Jong if they decide to turn their attention elsewhere, but as it stands United’s commitment remains to finalising the Dutchman’s arrival.


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