Manchester United and Chelsea have both been interested in Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong this summer.
Since Erik ten Hag was appointed Man United manager, the Dutchman has pursued his fellow countryman, with United even agreeing a €85million fee for De Jong last month. But, the transfer saga has now been going on for over 100 days, with little progress being made over the last few weeks.
It was then later reported that Chelsea were looking to hijack United's move for De Jong, with the Blues able to offer the midfielder Champions League football for the season ahead. De Jong is still looking to remain at Barcelona, but only if the club pays him the £17m he's owed in unpaid wages – a problem which has been getting in the way of United completing a deal.
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So, with De Jong's transfer sage still in the air, what could his impact look like at both United and Chelsea? Who would profit better with the midfielder in their squad, and who could struggle more without him?
De Jong's impact at Man United and Chelsea compared
To set up the simulation, we used Football Manager 2022 to simulate two seasons – one with De Jong at Man United and one with the 25-year-old at Chelsea. This is how the two seasons compared.
Man United's results with De Jong
In 54 appearances, De Jong established himself as one of the best midfielders in the league, averaging a rating of 7.31 per game in all competitions. Starting most games as a defensive midfielder, De Jong still managed a great attacking contribution, scoring six goals and registering 13 assists in his first season.
He starred for United in the Europa League, grabbing seven assists and two goals in 11 games. When compared to other midfielders at the club, he had the second highest rating, only behind Bruno Fernandes (7.34).
Fernandes scored and assisted more than De Jong, with the Portugal international also grabbing the player of the match awards the same amount of times as De Jong (5). Fred, Christian Eriksen and Adrien Rabiot were the next three top-performing midfielders at the club, with the latter included in the simulation due to United having agreed a fee with Juventus for the midfielder.
At the end of the season, FM22 put out a Best XI for the United squad, pulling out player statistics, league data and other metrics to come to a conclusion. Here's United's best XI from the 2022/23 season.
Full Man United Best XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia; De Jong, Eriksen; Rashford, Fernandes, Sancho; Martial.
De Jong partnered Eriksen in the midfield double-pivot, with Fred, Rabiot, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek all missing out. Anthony Martial led the line over Cristiano Ronaldo, whilst new signings Tyrell Malacia and Lisandro Martinez made the best XI.
The arrival of De Jong wasn't enough for United to win a cup in the 2022/23 season, with Erik ten Hag's side coming closest in the Europa League. After drawing 1-1 in 90 minutes, United lost 2-1 in the Europa League final to fellow Premier League side, Arsenal.
A penalty shootout loss to Manchester City saw United knocked out of the FA Cup in the quarter-finals, whilst a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool eliminated Ten Hag's side in the Carabao Cup fourth round. But, United did manage to hit their target for the season, with De Jong helping them finish in the Premier League top four.
Despite losing two of their final three league games, United finished fourth in the table, with Chelsea dropping out of the top four without De Jong in their squad. Ten Hag's side grabbed 71 points in total, 23 more points than the previous season.
Chelsea's results with De Jong
In his first season with Chelsea, De Jong made 53 appearances across all competitions, scoring four goals and grabbing eight assists in that time. His attacking contribution wasn't as big compared to his season at United, whilst his average rating was 7.3 per game, just 0.01 lower than at United.
Most of his contributions came in the Premier League, and his average rating could've been much higher if it wasn't for some below-average displays in the FA Cup. The 25-year-old averaged a 93% pass success rate, the highest in the Chelsea squad and the best out of all the midfielders in the Premier League.
De Jong was the standout midfielder at Chelsea in the 2022/23 season, topping the charts for most appearances, assists, player of the match awards and average rating. Only Thiago Silva (7.33) averaged a higher rating, whilst Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and N'Golo Kante scored more goals than the Netherlands international.
At the end of the season, FM22 put out a Best XI for the Chelsea squad, pulling out player statistics, league data and other metrics to come to a conclusion. Here's the Blues' best XI from the 2022/23 season.
Full Chelsea Best XI (5-2-2-1): Mendy; James, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Silva, Cucurella; Kovacic, De Jong; Mount, Sterling; Havertz.
De Jong was partnered by Kovacic in Chelsea's midfield duo, beating Jorginho, Kante and Conor Gallagher to the spot. Marc Cucurella started ahead of Ben Chilwell on the left, whilst Cesar Azpilicueta missed out to Trevor Chalobah in defence.
Despite the arrival of De Jong, Chelsea couldn't win a trophy in the 2022/23 season, though they did reach the Champions League final. The Blues met Liverpool in the final, but goals from Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez handed the Reds a 2-0 win.
An early goal from Michail Antonio saw West Ham beat the Blues 1-0 in the Carabao Cup semi-final, and a shock defeat in the FA Cup fourth round saw Chelsea lose 1-0 to Birmingham City. But, it wasn't a trophyless season though, with Tuchel leading the Blues to their first Premier League trophy since the 2016/17 season.
Involved in a title race until the final game of the season, Chelsea won the league on 86 points – only ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. Tuchel's side scored two fewer than Liverpool, though because Chelsea conceded three fewer, they won the league with a +1 goal difference over the Reds.
Chelsea won 27 of their 38 games, earning 22 more points than the simulated season without De Jong. It appears that the addition of the 25-year-old was very important to Chelsea, but it was equally as tough on Man United, who finished in sixth without the Dutch midfielder.
Ten Hag's side only managed three fewer points than when De Jong was in the squad, but the impact of losing the midfielder could potentially be the difference between Champions League or Europa League football next season. It was another poor year in the cups for United, even without De Jong.
United faced Arsenal in the Europa League final for a second time, and the Gunners emerged victorious again, this time winning on penalties. A 3-1 loss to Wolves knocked United out of the FA Cup in the fourth round, and a 2-1 loss to Leicester in the third round of the Carabao Cup saw United end the season with no silverware.
Overall, FM22 predicts that if De Jong was to make a move to the Premier League, the midfielder could have a greater impact at Chelsea as the Blues won the Premier League and reached the Champions League final, whilst the 25-year-old only helped United to a top-four finish. But. without the midfielder, Chelsea still won a trophy in a successful season, whilst United ended up sixth in a poor campaign overall.
Where do you think De Jong would make the best impact? Let us know in the comments below!
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