We 'signed' Frenkie de Jong for Man United next season as transfer possibility grows
Manchester United continue to be linked with Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, as preparation for next season ramps up.
Speculation linking De Jong with a United transfer have been relentless over the last few weeks, following the club confirming the appointment of his former manager Erik ten Hag as United's manager next season. Manchester Evening News understands that United have contacted Barcelona about De Jong's potential availability this summer and are weighing up a potential £75million move for Ten Hag's former midfield maestro.
The 25-year-old joined Barcelona for £65million in 2019 following Ajax's incredible Champions League campaign, in which they reached the semi-finals of the competition under Ten Hag. De Jong, Mathijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek sealed moves away from the Dutch club following their defeat to Tottenham.
So, if De Jong was to make the move to United in the summer, what sort of impact could he have on Ten Hag's side? Could the midfielder help improve the team's performance?
We simulated the 2022-23 season with De Jong in the United squad and this is what happened.
We 'signed' Frenkie de Jong for United in July 2022
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for De Jong to join United at the start of the summer transfer window with Ten Hag as manager of United, using FM22 to run the simulation. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata, Tahith Chong and Lee Grant were all released, whilst Nemanja Matic, Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were all sold.
This is what De Jong's in-game profile looks like on FM22.
The 24-year-old has brilliant technical, mental and physical attributes that make him one of the most talented midfielders in Europe. De Jong's key attributes are his Dribbling (16), First Touch (17), Passing (16), Technique (16), Anticipation (17), Composure (16), Decisions (16), Determination (16), Off The Ball (16), Teamwork (17), Vision (18) and Agility (16).
These attributes highlight the 24-year-old's ability to dictate and retain possession for his side, whilst also being able to break up play and intercept counter-attacks, winning the ball back consistently and driving his team up the pitch putting them on the front foot. De Jong likes to run with the ball through the middle of the pitch, playing short and simple passes that help dictate the tempo of games for his side.
Let's see how the Netherlands international performed throughout the 2022/23 season at United on FM22. De Jong instantly became a key player for United and proved that he had the quality to take control of United's midfield and provide a link between defence and attack. The Dutch midfielder scored eight goals and registered 14 assists in 51 appearances for Ten Hag's side across all competitions.
The 24-year-old averaged a pass completion rate of 87 per cent across all competitions, matching Bruno Fernandes as the joint-best passer in United's midfield. De Jong averaged a tackle success rate of 81 per cent across all competitions, highlighting his ability to successfully and consistently win the ball back for his side when needed, protecting the defence from possible counter-attacks.
The Dutch midfielder averaged a match rating of 7.30 in all competitions, ranking him as the fifth-best performer at the club. De Jong's rating of 7.30 was only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo (7.54), Fernandes (7.51), Jadon Sancho (7.43) and Joao Felix (7.37).
At the end of the 2022-23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Man United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what United's best XI looked like at the end of the 2022-23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022:
Full United best XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, Varane, Shaw; De Jong, Fernandes; Saelemaekers, Joao Felix, Sancho; Ronaldo.
United backed Ten Hag in the summer transfer window and brought in Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix and AC Milan talent Alexis Saelemaekers alongside De Jong, as Fernandes dropped into a deeper role in midfield. United also brought in Carlos Soler from Valencia and former Manchester City defender Angelino from RB Leipzig.
So, how did United perform in the league and cup competitions after signing De Jong in the summer transfer window? Let's take a look.
United's results from the 2022-23 simulation:
United finished second in the Premier League with De Jong in the side, qualifying for the Champions League and finishing above rivals Manchester City for the first time since the 2012/13 season. Ten Hag's side finished 10 points below eventual champions Liverpool as United fell off the pace towards the end of the season, dropping points against Chelsea, Tottenham and Leicester.
United also finished the season with the second-best goal difference in the division as De Jong's impact helped improve the defensive performance at the club. Compared to the 2020-21 season, United finished in the same league position but with six more points and a better goal difference by plus five.
Ten Hag's side were unlucky in the domestic cup competitions, finishing runners-up in the Carabao Cup following a devastating 4-1 defeat to Liverpool at Wembley, and being knocked out of the FA Cup third round to rivals City. In Europe, United were able to repeat their success from the 2016/17 season and win the Europa League after a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig.
Overall, this Football Manager simulation predicts that if United were to sign De Jong ahead of the 2022/23 season they could win the Europa League, challenge in cup competitions and leapfrog their local rivals in the Premier League to challenge for a league title, whilst also qualifying for the Champions League. De Jong's impact could help improve United's overall performance with the Netherlands international tallying 22 goal contributions in 51 appearances in his debut season at Old Trafford.
Would you like to see Frenkie de Jong s ign for Manchester United this summer? Let us know in the comments!