This summer, United manager Erik ten Hag made the acquisition of his former protege his top priority. Indeed, the Red Devils spent over three months attempting to first negotiate a fee with Barcelona, then persuade the player to go. That pursuit ultimately resulted in nothing but frustration, as evidenced by United’s ability to complete a deal for Casemiro in a matter of days.
Since then, United director of football John Murtough has come to a terrible realization about the De Jong chase. To that aim, he understands that future transfer attempts will teach him valuable lessons.
Despite the difficulties in completing the transaction, Barcelona was always eager to sell. United agreed to a cost of around £63 million, plus add-ons, which would have significantly reduced their financial burden.
But De Jong was determined about not moving. And when a devastating report identified ten reasons why De Jong was opposed to the trade, United must have sensed the writing was on the wall.
De Jong has now broken his silence on the move and confesses that things were not easy. However, he also implies that he was resolute about not leaving, reinforcing beliefs that United wasted their time pursuing him.
“I always intended to stay at Barcelona, which is why I stayed calm in the summer,” the 25-year-old stated, emphasizing that he was never interested in joining United.
Frenkie de Jong explains the Manchester United transfer snub
De Jong went on to say that, while Barcelona was pushing for his sale, he had a different outlook on his future.
“I can’t reveal too many specifics. But, see, the club has its own ideas, and I have mine as well. And this occasionally contradicts with one another. But, in the end, everything went OK.”
De Jong has subsequently started three LaLiga games for Barcelona, while also appearing off the bench in the other three. He has also made one Champions League appearance.
Speaking ahead of the Netherlands’ Nations League matches against Poland and Belgium, national coach Louis van Gaal expressed his desire for De Jong to play more frequently.
Memphis Depay, who chose to stay at Barcelona and has only seen minimal play, is in the same boat.
“It’s true that numerous players approached me throughout the transfer window,” he admitted. “However, I always closed each chat by saying, ‘This is my counsel, but you make your own decision.'”
“I am pleased with the outcome.” But I’d like it if Frenkie and Memphis played more than they do currently.”
Man United’s rejection was hardly unexpected.
Few players turn down Manchester United when they come knocking, and De Jong is one of the most prominent examples, along with Erling Haaland.
In some ways, that is an indictment of their 12-month slump, which led in the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And, with Ralf Rangnick unable to lead a turnaround, the club limped home in sixth place.
That cost them the chance to compete in the Champions League, as well as the signing of Frenkie De Jong.
A player of his caliber will believe they belong at that level. As a result, despite the allure of reuniting with Ten Hag, it was a risk he was determined to avoid.
Now that the player has made it very obvious that he wants to stay at Barcelona, the amount of time United wasted on the transaction is clear.
Finally, it did not derail their ambitions, as Ten Hag was still able to spend over £200 million on bolstering his midfield alternatives.
Casemiro, the player they did bring in, is yet to make his Premier League debut. And the Brazilian is included on this list of the top ten Premier League disappointments thus far.
He has, however, appeared three times as a substitute and twice as a starter in the Europa League.