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Erik ten Hag makes Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong a Manchester United target

By Fabrizio Romano
Frenkie de Jong in action during Barcelona’s game at Real Betis this month.
Frenkie de Jong in action during Barcelona’s game at Real Betis this month. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Erik ten Hag will push to make Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong one of his first signings at Manchester United. The pair worked together for a year and a half at Ajax, the club Ten Hag is leaving for Old Trafford this month.

Contact has been made between the parties but no agreement is close. Barcelona’s financial troubles could make them willing to entertain offers of at least €70m (£60m), although Ten Hag would have to persuade De Jong of the merits of joining United given that the midfielder regards competing in the Champions League as a priority.

De Jong told the Guardian in February that he hoped to stay at Barcelona “for many more years”, describing it as a dream to have signed, even though he admitted he would have liked to have won more trophies. The manager, Xavi Hernández, would like the 25-year-old to continue at the club.

Barcelona are poised to raise funds through the sale of Philippe Coutinho, having agreed a €20m deal with Aston Villa for the Brazilian, who has been on loan at the Premier League club since January.

De Jong, a Netherlands international, has started 29 of the 32 La Liga games for which he has been available this season. He has scored three goals and provided three assists in those matches.

United have reached an agreement for Mitchell van der Gaag, Ten Hag’s assistant at Ajax, to join the club and there remains the possibility that Steve McClaren could be added to the coaching staff.

Ajax have confirmed that Alfred Schreuder will join from Club Brugge to replace Ten Hag as manager on a two-year contract.

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