The tactical approach of Barcelona manager Xavi van Frenkie de Jong in their friendly win over Real Madrid ahead of the season may have signaled that a move to Manchester United could be closer than it currently appears. The Red Devils are trying to bring in De Jong all summer, but have so far failed to win the proposed deal, with the Dutchman preferring the idea of staying at Camp Nou for the foreseeable future .
De Jong has continued to play a role for Barcelona in preparation for the season, despite United already agreeing a transfer fee in talks with the Catalan giants in recent weeks. He was featured in their win over Real Madrid on Saturday night, but may have been frustrated by the nature of his involvement in the match, the outcome of which was decided by Raphinha’s winning goal shortly before half-time.
Xavi decided to drop De Jong from the Barcelona base against their bitter rivals, opting instead for a midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Gavi. The former Ajax player was then introduced during halftime, but was replaced from central position in the back for Andreas Christensen, who played in the heart of the Barcelona defense for the first 45 minutes.
It remains to be seen whether De Jong will eventually grow tired of having to play an unfamiliar role at Barcelona if Xavi continues to drag him into a defensive position over the coming weeks. The midfielder has already underlined his desire to stay with his current employers, but would certainly prefer his natural role at another club if the opportunity presents itself in the not-too-distant future.
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Barcelona are reportedly in talks with De Jong to ask him to reconsider his firm stance against a move in the coming days. The La Liga heavyweights are keen to cash in on their player with the aim of funding a big-money transfer for Jules Kunde, who is one of their top targets, despite Chelsea’s efforts to get him to Stamford Bridge in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, United are believed to be still in advanced talks over De Jong’s availability, but his potential move to Old Trafford seems a long way off at this stage. Despite their best efforts, the Red Devils have yet to agree personal terms with the player and his representatives as the situation has grown into a messy and protracted saga over the summer period.
Erik ten Hag recently admitted to looking for a new deep-set midfielder when questioned about his remaining transfer plans, but stopped naming De Jong, who he led during his time at Ajax, as an interesting player.
“We are looking for a player who can play in midfield, but it has to be the right one,” Ten Hag explained earlier this month.
“There aren’t many in that position who are able to reach the level we demand. If we can’t find him, we are now dealing with the players in our squad and we will develop one in that position. “
“I will not respond to any particular player. We need the right player. We have a list and we qualify as the player who has the competence to play that role. We will strike when the player is available. “
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