Barcelona have dropped big Frenkie de Jong hint as Man Utd press to close transfer

De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links

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On Tuesday night, Barcelona put Inter Miami to the sword with a scintillating pre-season display. The Catalan giants won 6-0, with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Raphinha, Ansu Fati, Gavi, Memphis Depay and Ousmane Dembele all on target. But, by deploying Frenkie de Jong at centre-back amid links to Manchester United, they’ve hinted they’ll struggle to accommodate the Netherlands international this season.

Manchester United have spent all summer long chasing De Jong.

But while they’ve agreed a fee with Barcelona for the Netherlands international, which is believed to be worth an initial £63million, they’ve still struggled to get a deal over the line.

On Tuesday night, Barcelona faced off against Inter Miami in America.

And De Jong was deployed as a central defender, alongside Ronald Araujo and Oscar Hernandez in the absence of Gerard Pique.

Obviously, it’s only pre-season. It’s still too early to gleam much from these fixtures given their lack of significance.

But it’s interesting that De Jong was played out of position, despite being one of the best midfielders on the planet.

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By using him there, it suggests Barcelona will struggle to accommodate him in their squad for the upcoming campaign if he stays.

And it could even be their way of sending a message to the player: reject United, and expect more of this treatment.

We’re not alone in thinking this, with Spanish outlet AS saying it’s ‘difficult not to interpret the technical decision to place De Jong in the central position as the one made with someone who is not counted on for the season’.

It’s actually rather insulting that a player of De Jong’s talents has to be forced to play out of position.

And with Barcelona increasingly keen for the 25-year-old to accept United’s offer, this latest development could work in the Red Devils’ favour.

There have been mixed messages over whether or not De Jong is willing to make the move to Old Trafford this summer.

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Over in Catalonia, they continue to insist the Netherlands international doesn’t want to leave his current employers.

De Jong is settled living in Barcelona and always dreamed of playing for the La Liga side, ever since he was young.

He’s recently brought a new house in the city and wants to play in the Champions League, too.

But, over on these shores, the narrative is different.

De Jong has reportedly given United enough encouragement to believe this lengthy, drawn-out pursuit is worth their time.

And it does seem like the Red Devils wouldn’t be putting so much into a deal if they weren’t confident the midfielder was willing to come.

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United have been here before, though.

They wanted to land Cesc Fabregas in 2013, when David Moyes was manager, with Ed Woodward confident a deal would be struck.

But, when that didn’t happen, United were left in a panic and ended up overpaying for Marouane Fellaini instead.

New United chief Richard Arnold won’t want a repeat, which may explain why he and John Murtough recently jetted in to Barcelona for secret talks.

Meanwhile, the Red Devils have faced criticism for their pursuit of De Jong so far.

But Lee Sharpe has praised his old side for holding their nerve, saying: “I think the manager will have a really good relationship with him.

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“It’s a little bit of paperwork and Manchester United are going about it pretty professionally.

“It’s a shame that it’s taking so long. But I think if the manager really wants him, and that’s his No 1 target, they have to be patient and try to get it across the line as soon as they can.”

He then added: “What a player. A marquee player.

“I think he’s Erik ten Hag’s No 1, on his list.

“If they can get him across the line, fingers crossed they can, I think he would be an amazing signing.”

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