De Jong’s departure from Barcelona no longer seems impossible
When Frankie de Jong first left Ajax for Barcelona, there was a sense that this alliance was for good. The young Dutchman, by the time of his transfer, had secured a place in the Amsterdam starting line-up, playing a defining role in the construction of the team’s game. The Ajax were having a hugely successful 2018/2019 season, with Real Madrid and Juventus all coming through in the Champions League play-offs but stopping one step short of the final (losing to Tottenham).
The names of the Ajax players were familiar, so the transfer matched the image of the Catalans – all that was left to do was adapt to the new team’s game.
For three seasons de Jong settled in Barcelona: regularly appeared on the field in the championship matches in Spain (98 games), managed to score 8 goals and give 9 assists. Against this background, rumours of a potential sale have suddenly surfaced.
Manchester United are prepared to pay 85m euros
The first new insider emerged back in April – according to Catalunya Radio, Eric ten Hague, Manchester United’s new mentor, wants to work with the 25-year-old midfielder. De Jong played successfully under him at Ajax. It has been reported that Manchester City are prepared to pay around €70million to the Blues. The amount of the deal, which was reported in the media, gradually increased and eventually stood at 85 million.
De Jong is a promising prospect for United – the midfielder, having played for Barcelona, has shown he can adapt to the realities of the new club. Furthermore, ten Hague knows the strengths of the Dutch midfielder and can expect the Red Devils to build around him. Midfielder Donije van de Beek, with whom de Jong is also familiar from his time at Ajax, will also help adapt.
The transfer could well overpower the loss of Paul Pogba. His departure should improve the microclimate in the team – while the Frenchman played at United all the time there were rumours of his desire to leave, the intention to stay, the dissatisfaction with the salary. And while the very fact of parting with Pogba will be good for the team atmosphere, de Jong will make up for the loss in terms of play.
Barcelona need the money
Going back to initial reports of the possibility of Frankie de Jong’s sale – it was said that Barcelona themselves offered the player’s services to European clubs during negotiations. The Catalan side’s financial problems have not gone away, as Barça president Joan Laporta stated last summer:
We expected a loss of around €200m, but we are actually heading towards a record figure of €487m. We will need to work even harder and better with sponsors… There were disproportionate payments to middlemen who were not even agents. It cost us €40m.
Shortly before the end of last season, the Blues’ head coach Xavi remarked:
“I think he [de Jong] is a very important player. He’s almost always been in the starting line-up, if you don’t count the rotation. He is a systematic player. But you have to take into account the financial situation the club is in. It is not just about Frankie, I mean the whole situation … I play an important role in the decision-making process, but it all depends on the financial situation.
According to the latest figures provided by Marca, the Catalans will have to pay de Jong 88.58 million euros for the 4 years remaining on his contract, excluding possible bonuses. After signing the agreement, the Dutch midfielder’s fixed salary at Barça was €14 million.
As a result, Barcelona will lose the base player by waiving de Jong’s services, but could improve their financial situation by freeing up a place on their payroll and receiving compensation.
De Jong in no hurry to agree a transfer
The deal looks a win-win for all, but Frankie himself is probably not keen on a move to England. The situation was outlined by Catalunya Radio in April this year:
‘The only option that Frankie de Jong will agree to is to work with Eric ten Hag. In addition, he wants to go to a top club. Xavi wants Frankie to stay, but if United come in and offer €70m, Barça will try to convince him to leave.
At the end of June it was reported that de Jong would join Manchester United’s squad in the near future. But before that, Cadena SER reported that the 25-year-old midfielder had not agreed a transfer.
“I’m very happy to be at Barcelona: I’ve wanted to be here since I was young, so in that sense my dream has come true. But, of course, I would have liked to win more trophies than we did in the first two years. I expected more in that respect, so to speak. But otherwise I am very happy here and hopefully I will be for many years to come,” de Jong told The Guardian in February.
The Dutchman’s position is understandable – de Jong has been at Barcelona for more than a year. He understands the Catalans’ game and his place in it, and regularly appears in the main squad. He has a clearer future in Spain, having won silverware in La Liga and playing in the Champions League next season. They are sitting in sixth place at the moment and it is unlikely that they will climb into the top 3 anytime soon. In addition, it is not certain that the Mancunians, who only this summer got rid of Pogba’s heavy contract, will be able to agree terms comparable to what Frankie has at Barça.
For now, the prospect of staying with the Catalans looks brighter for de Jong, but then financial appetites will have to be curtailed – and an agreement between the blaugrana and MJ is getting closer.