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Erik ten Hag has delivered his verdict on Frenkie de Jong amid Manchester United transfer links

By George Smith

Incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has previously hailed Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong's calmness and ability to play under pressure amid speculation the pair could be reunited at Old Trafford this summer.

According to reports in Spain, United are working on a deal to sign De Jong. The duo worked together at Ajax until the midfielder joined Barcelona back in the summer of 2019.

De Jong, who turns 25 on Thursday, thrived under Ten Hag's management in Amsterdam and earned his move to Barcelona as a result of his development under the incoming United boss. He played a key role in their famous run to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019 and made almost 100 appearances for the club.

READ MORE: Alejandro Garnacho and Manchester United give fans what they have been waiting for in FA Youth Cup final

Since making the switch to the Camp Nou, De Jong, who will be hoping to represent the Netherlands at the World Cup later this year, has made 138 appearances, scoring 13 goals and grabbing 17 assists. He has been a regular under manager Xavi and would be a statement signing if the Reds were to get it over the line.

Strengthening their midfield options is a leading priority for United this summer. They are desperate to add fresh blood to that area of the team and in De Jong they would be inheriting a player that is capable of doing a little bit of everything.

For Ten Hag, who knows his fellow countryman inside out, it is his ability to play without showing any sense of pressure that makes him so unique and talented.

Ahead of joining Barcelona almost three years ago, Ten Hag, as quoted by UEFA.com, said: "He is always calm and always has the solution. He scans so well that he always knows how to go forward.

"You can hardly put him under pressure – that is such a great gift."

Ten Hag, in a separate interview, also outlined how he turned De Jong into such an outstanding talent. He addressed how it was important to discover the right formation to bring the best out of him.

The Dutchman told Trouw: "The quality of your players decide how you will play, and with what system. We had to find a way to make Frenkie function in the best possible way.

"You saw his incredible talent, but where do we have to use him to get the best out of him and his talent? Eventually I decided to play with two 'No.6 players' on the pitch.

"Once I did this you saw how much better he became on the pitch, and how much better he made the whole team play and especially the attackers."

Despite being a regular for Barcelona, the emergence of talented youngsters Pedri and Gavin has thrown De Jong's future into doubt. He has been heavily linked with several clubs in recent weeks, but the prospect of a reunion with Ten Hag and a stab at Premier League football could prove to be tempting for him.

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