Tier one reporters debunk reports that Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong's signing for Manchester United was 95% complete.
At Old Trafford, Wednesday night provided some welcome cheer for fans of Manchester United, not least with an FA Youth Cup victory in front of 70,000+ supporters at Old Trafford and soon to be manager Erik ten Hag bidding farewell to Ajax by securing his third Eredivisie title.
Following the two results, supposed transfer oracle Gerard Romero timely tweeted a statement declaring Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong was 95% certain to move to United within the next month.
As to be expected, the news sent supporters and rival fans alike into overdrive. However, has Romero, an acclaimed source for Barcelona news, potentially jumped the gun?
A good barometer for the credibility of developments such as this is to analyse the mainstream media’s response along with journalists with rumoured links to both clubs.
Although Romero undoubtedly carries weight regarding the Catalan giants, those close to United remained tight-lipped until the following morning.
What the experts had to say
Chief Manchester United writer for the Manchester Evening News, Samuel Luckhurst, reported the club are "weighing up a move" for De Jong but described reports of an imminent deal as "wide of the mark".
Luckhurst goes on to report that Erik ten Hag has identified the Dutch midfielder, whom he managed at Ajax, as a potential target and that United have made initial contact with Barcelona.
The final boss of transfer gurus, Fabrizio Romano, also had his say, stating there is no agreement between the two clubs, and Barcelona’s financial situation, along with the player’s desire to play Champions League football, are both key factors.
Is Frenkie de Jong the answer to United’s prayers?
Upon assessing the current United squad, the defensive midfield position is undoubtedly the area in greatest need of reinforcement.
A player who protects the back four while initiating attacks has long been absent, forcing both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and interim boss Ralf Rangnick to field two for the price of one.
The latter, De Jong offers in abundance, with his awareness in possession, eye for a pass and dribbling ability well-known. His defensive attributes, however, divide opinion.
Not blessed with the physicality associated with previous targets such as Declan Rice, for example, the likes of Chelsea’s Jorginho or Liverpool’s Thiago would perhaps be the closest comparisons in the English top-flight.
Neither of whom are deployed as sole number "6s". Jurgen Klopp fields Thiago to the right of a midfield three, while Jorginho features in a double pivot alongside a more athletic partner.
This would suggest that if De Jong were to make the switch, he’d feature in a double pivot owing to another central midfielder being signed.
With a potential fee of between €70m and €80m being suggested and considering reports that new boss Erik ten Hag’s budget is rumoured to be no more than £100m, De Jong’s acquisition would limit the opportunity to strengthen elsewhere, perhaps providing an insurmountable hurdle for the deal to take place.