Man United FC

Not Amrabat – Ten Hag could finally sign his Frenkie de Jong for United at half the cost

Manchester United’s midfield has undergone significant reinforcement since Frenkie de Jong, the Barcelona playmaker, opted not to reunite with his former Ajax mentor Erik ten Hag last summer. Despite investing £120 million in bolstering their midfield, Ten Hag may now be gearing up to experiment with his own unique version.

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While De Jong didn’t directly join United last summer, both parties were certainly involved in a transfer tussle manipulated by Barcelona. The talented midfielder, nurtured by Ten Hag within the revered Amsterdam system, appeared to be available until Barcelona executed a sudden U-turn, placing him at the forefront of their successful title campaign.

Financial considerations were a major stumbling block in the De Jong saga. He had deferred wages dating back to the Covid-19 pandemic, but what the 26-year-old truly desired from Barcelona was a chance to regain his spot, stay in his beloved city, and reaffirm his value.

De Jong successfully achieved that last season, seizing the opportunity provided by Xavi and the Camp Nou hierarchy. However, money wasn’t a concern for United, as they demonstrated over the past year.

United secured Casemiro and Mason Mount for a combined fee exceeding £120 million, even though they are vastly different players from De Jong and from each other. Christian Eriksen was acquired on a smart free transfer, and Marcel Sabitzer was brought in on loan from Bayern Munich during the January transfer window.

Now, with Sabitzer’s departure and subsequent permanent move to Borussia Dortmund, United has ventured into the market to find his replacement: Sofyan Amrabat. The Moroccan midfielder’s loan fee is €10 million, with an option, not an obligation, to purchase.

Amrabat, yet to make his United debut, could be the closest thing on paper to United finding their own De Jong. If his initial loan spell goes well, securing his permanent signature for the rumored £25 million would be a bargain compared to De Jong’s price tag, which would be at least twice as high.

Casemiro, Mount, Eriksen, and Sabitzer each brought unique qualities to United. However, aside from the Brazilian powerhouse Casemiro, these players are primarily attack-minded. De Jong was a coveted target because of his ability to excel in all aspects of midfield play, much like Amrabat.

Ten Hag expressed his desire for another player in the number six role upon Amrabat’s signing, a player he knows well from their time together at FC Utrecht. He stated, “You need depth in there, in that position we only had Casemiro who can play really well there. Also, he can play alongside Casemiro because he can play a little bit higher [as a box-to-box midfielder]. He’s very dynamic, he’s very good in the duels. We are pleased that we have him at United, and he will contribute to the high targets we set… He fits very well into the Premier League and Champions League.”

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