Barcelona boss Xavi sends message to Man Utd about chances of signing Frenkie de Jong

Erik ten Hag appointed next Manchester United manager

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Manchester United have been dealt a blow in their reported pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong after manager Xavi backed the Dutchman to be a major player at the Nou Camp under him.

United are in dire need of a new-look midfield given that Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata are out of contract at the end of the season. Those leaving will mean United have just Fred, Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes as senior midfielders. And that means United ideally need at least two signings to come in this summer.

De Jong has been linked, having dipped in and out of form at Barcelona due to the fact he has played under five different managers since his move from Ajax in 2019. The 24-year-old would be the ideal profile of signing that soon-to-be United boss Erik ten Hag would be looking for, given that he played under the Dutchman for a year-and-a-half at Ajax.

But Xavi’s comments this weekend look to have quashed any chance of United signing the player, with the Spaniard claiming that he “is very important to him”. Xavi said: “Frenkie [de Jong] is very important for me, for the club and for the team. He is a footballer who has to mark an era with his quality and personality.

“He is at a very good level since I arrived and he has to continue scoring goals, assists, and being the protagonist in games. He could be one of the best midfielders in the world in the coming years.”

With a move not likely, United may turn their attention to previous targets such as Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Aurelien Tchouameni or Ryan Gravenberch. With younger profiles being preferred by United chiefs, De Jong would be the perfect fit to ease Ten Hag into his tenure at Old Trafford.

But they may have to settle for other players if that is not attainable, especially given that United are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season. Barcelona currently sit second in the La Liga table, having become resurgent under Xavi.

The Blaugrana have only lost twice in the league under his control, with the games in question being 1-0 home defeats to Real Betis and Cadiz respectively.

Having been ninth when the Catalan-born legend took over, they are now in the driving seat for a Champions League spot next season; something that was almost unfathomable under former boss Ronald Koeman.

But Xavi’s tactical nous alongside Spotify’s new £250million naming rights deal could see them become one of Europe’s elite once more.

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