Manchester United are accelerating talks to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona, talkSPORT understands.
However, the Premier League giants have been told to walk away from negotiations if the Dutchman is not 100 per cent committed to a possible transfer.
Netherlands international midfielder De Jong has been linked with a move to Old Trafford ever since his former Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag was appointed as the new Red Devils manager.
The pair worked together and won top honours at the Amsterdam club, lifting the Eredivisie title and Dutch Cup, before he sealed a £65million move to Barcelona in 2019.
While a regular player for the Nou Camp side, De Jong’s career hasn’t lifted off as expected since his move to Spain, with his arrival coinciding with the Catalan club’s financial crisis and dip in form on the pitch.
A Copa del Rey victory is the only success he has tasted since making the move, and it is understood there are firm talks between Manchester United and Barcelona for him to move to the English top flight this summer.
Ten Hag is desperate to be reunited with the star at Old Trafford, particularly after losing the likes of Paul Pogba, Namanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard from his midfield options this summer.
talkSPORT sources even suggest the club has put talks over a move for Benfica striker Darwin Nunez on the backburner, for now, to get a deal for De Jong over the line.
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However, the Dutchman has indicated his desire to stay at the Nou Camp and to keep playing Champions League football – which he won’t find at United next season, at least.
Barcelona are said to be open to selling the 25-year-old due to the club’s ongoing financial peril, but the player has insisted Barca are his ‘dream club’ and that his preference is to stay.
And, in response to the player’s apparent reservations about leaving the Nou Camp, United have been told to look elsewhere if De Jong isn’t fully sold on joining the Ten Hag project.
talkSPORT reporter Alex Crook said: “There are clear links between Ten Hag and De Jong, and from what I’m told talks between Manchester United, De Jong and Barcelona do seem to be accelerating.
“To such an extent that they’re putting talks for Darwin Nunez – another of Ten Hag’s top targets – slightly on the back burner for now.
“For me, the answer to their problems in that position for a long time has been Declan Rice. I think he would be a transformative signing for Manchester United, but that’s not going to happen this summer in terms of signing from West Ham.
“De Jong is a very talented player, but the reason I’m a little bit hesitant about it is he’as come out publicly and said he wants to stay at Barcelona and wants to play in the Champions League – he’s not going to get that at Manchester United.
“I don’t know if Manchester United should be almost on their hands and knees at this stage begging a player to join them.
“They need to get away from that. If a player is not 100 per cent committed to joining the cause, I think they should walk away.”
United and Ten Hag have been given some hope that a deal could be possible, though, with De Jong recently speaking out against his role in the Barcelona team.
Speaking following the Netherlands’ 4-1 victory over Belgium in the Nations League, De Jong said his position for the national team suits his style more than his club.
“Of course, I play in a completely different way for the Dutch national team than for Barcelona – I think this suits me a lot better,” De Jong told NOS.
“I like it when I am one of the first points of contact in midfield from the defence.”
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