The wait goes on for Manchester United and their fans for a first new signing of the summer.
While there has been no shortage of names being linked to the club, supporters have become anxious at the lack of new arrivals as their rivals get down to work in the transfer window. And the news coming from their confirmed targets so far hasn’t done anything to quell the growing frustration.
United are of course in talks with Barcelona over a potential move for Frenkie de Jong. The two clubs though remain a fair distance apart in their valuations of the player, and the Reds are prepared to walk away from the deal in order to go after other targets.
Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag wants further reunions with Ajax duo Jurrien Timber and Antony. United are also interested in Christian Eriksen, who is available as a free agent as his short-term deal at Brentford expires.
With pre-season looming though, there is a distinct lack of new additions as the summer rebuild gets off to an inauspicious start. On Wednesday, MEN Sport’s chief United writer Samuel Luckhurst hosted a Q&A with supporters and lifted the lid on the latest on the transfer front, including updates on the likes of De Jong, Timber and Antony.
Q: Do you think United will get De Jong over the line and what have you heard on a potential price?
SL: Gut feeling is because United want him, Barca are prepared to sell and the player is coming round to joining United, it’ll eventually get done. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it collapsed, either. It would be a bit of a disaster for United if it did because it is obvious how eager Ten Hag is to sign a potentially transformative player.
Q: Is there any word on what the plan is for the midfield if we fail to get De Jong?
SL: They have fall-back options but since Ten Hag is determined to sign De Jong they are willing to negotiate hard to sign him, even if it takes longer than United would like. Everyone at the club is keen for some key signings to come in ASAP but, as stated a few times this week, it would not be a good look if they went through the entirety of June without an addition. That hasn’t happened with United since 2010.
Q: Erik ten Hag has been quoted saying FDJ is not a holding midfielder (not his best position) and considering we have not had a holding mid for a couple of years now, is FDJ going to be the holding?
SL: It’s something I want to ask Ten Hag in Bangkok (or before then, if there’s an opportunity). City have Rodri, Liverpool have Fabinho and Chelsea Kante. United need an out-and-out defensive midfielder to hold the fort. If a coach from the Eredivisie sweeps all before him without a defensive midfielder then I will wear clogs in the Old Trafford press box.
Q: What have you heard on Antony, do you think United will get him and what’s the potential price for him?
SL: United are trying to do a deal for him as they want a flexible forward, rather than an out-and-out striker. His market value is higher than Van de Beek’s at the time of his signing and United invested £40m in him.
Q: Is the deal for Timber completely dead or is it just speculation based on LVG’s comments? The director of the company that represents posted that he was in Manchester on Instagram.
SL: As you say, the director of the group was in Manchester – at the City Football Academy.
I’d always hesitate to say ‘dead’ with most deals but, as you’ve probably noticed, it has gone quiet and De Telegraaf’s line will have been well sourced.
Q: Why do our transfers take so long to complete? Liverpool and City (particularly Liverpool) seem to get it done with a minimum of fuss – a bit like we used to back in the good times.
SL: I touched upon this in Monday’s read.
City and Liverpool have greater pull in the market – they challenge, they win things and they have the best coaches. Liverpool knew they’d need a forward and acted quickly while Haaland had a release clause so, wherever he was going, he was going to be on the move early in the window.
United are playing catch-up because the new manager only started working last month and his prime target is a 25-year-old Netherlands international and Barcelona regular contracted to them until 2026. That is a deal that is always going to take some time to do.
That said, in regards to the other targets, United should have been swifter signing them. Various clubs with different dimensions (Liverpool, Dortmund, Villa, Roma etc.) have reinforced already, so there aren’t any genuine excuses for United’s failure to do so (so far).
Q: Maybe this is wishful thinking, but could Declan Rice be a target for next summer with a cheaper tag and that is why we are not looking at a CDM this window? We were heavily linked to a few and now it has gone quiet.
SL: Next summer, yes – provided United are back in the Champions League. Rice was a non-starter this summer and it is United’s good fortune that applies to every other club. West Ham will have to cash in eventually and United just need to ensure they’re in a propitious position to sign him.
Q: Are there any concrete offers for players like Bailly , Tuanzebe etc. and if not how are we trying to sign Lisandro Martinez, Timber or are they totally dependent on outgoings?
SL: Because of the exodus of midfielders and attackers, United don’t have to sell to buy in those areas. In defence, they have 13 players who have played for the first-team and seven are centre halves, so they have to sell to buy.
They will do well to sell any of the unwanted centre-backs quickly because the stock of all three is on the floor. In Bailly’s case, he only got a new contract last year, so that makes a swift sale prohibitive.
If Ten Hag genuinely wanted Pau Torres, that seems a doable player-plus-cash swap involving Bailly. He used to play for them and Villarreal’s squad is teeming with Premier League rejects.
Q: How do you think the right-back situation will develop this season?
SL: If they got Timber they’d be killing two birds with one stone as he can be used at right-back. Ethan Laird is not completely out of the frame despite an unfulfilling time at Bournemouth.
United’s priorities are elsewhere but if they shift Wan-Bissaka that would give them leverage to get a replacement in.
Q: How can we still be overlooking a holding midfielder going into this season? Or is there any news around that?
SL: I wouldn’t say United are overlooking that position, it’s just the manager has come in and insisted on signing a midfielder who can control games, as United don’t have one of those either.
Q: Is it true that United won’t be making any signings before they know what they have to pay for Frenkie De Jong? In that case does it mean that the budget is not as significant as thought initially?
SL: I was told if United met Barca’s demands immediately it could affect how much they strengthen the squad elsewhere. I still doubt United would delay a signing until there is clarity on De Jong because people at the club are desperate for incomings.
Q: Want to find your take and the club’s view on Arnold’s leaked video with the fans? Was it a positive move?
SL: I spoke about it on the podcast. I thought he emerged from it reasonably well. He didn’t say anything incriminating, he echoed what the fans have been saying and he fronted up after his landlord tipped him off. I don’t think we’d tolerate an off-the-record with him (should it ever come to pass) after Saturday!
Manchester United are continuing to press ahead with plans to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona. The Netherlands international is Erik ten Hag’s priority target for this summer, along with Christian Eriksen. And the Red Devils are still hopeful they can land the midfielder, who managed six goals involvements in La Liga last term.
Manchester United have been trying to sign De Jong for a few weeks now.
The midfielder is wanted by Ten Hag and John Murtough, who both believe the 25-year-old can be a key player at Old Trafford.
At the moment, United are yet to reach an agreement with Barcelona. The two clubs are haggling over a fee, with the Catalan giants looking for around £73million to part ways with their prized asset.
But, amid claims De Jong is ’90 per cent’ likely to move to the Red Devils, it’s time to look at a potential announcement.
Express Sport will now take a look at how United are likely to confirm the De Jong signing if, and when, this deal eventually gets done.
United, if they are to sign De Jong, will announce his transfer officially on their club website.
That’s what all teams do in the 21st century, with the Red Devils often mocking up a black and white graphic to mark the occasion.
They did this with Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane last summer upon confirming their moves from Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively.
United will likely give a brief summary of De Jong’s career to this point.
He won two trophies under Ten Hag at Ajax prior to his exit in 2019 but, at Barcelona, has just the Copa del Rey to show for his efforts so far.
John Murtough keeps a low profile.
But the United supremo does speak out when it comes to deals the club make when they’re eventually done.
That was the case with the club’s last big announcement, when they confirmed Bruno Fernandes would be signing a new contract.
Murtough is in charge of the De Jong negotiations, with fellow United chief Richard Arnold allowing the 51-year-old to do the work.
Arnold recently confirmed this in a candid chat with disgruntled supporters at a local pub, where he also appeared to aim a dig at Ed Woodward over the club’s lack of transfer success in recent years.
It’s also possible that De Jong himself will speak out.
That’s what happened when United signed Sancho 12 months ago, with the England international opening up to club media about his move.
Given De Jong recently labelled Barcelona as the ‘biggest club in the world’, it’s also possible he’ll move to get United fans on-side from the very beginning.
His preference was, initially, to stay at the Nou Camp.
But given the La Liga giants’ need to sell, he’s now coming round to the fact his Barcelona career could be over.
If United announce De Jong after he’s done a medical, it’s possible they’ll post a link to his jersey as well.
The Red Devils like players who can sell shirts and the Barcelona star, providing he ends up moving, could be a popular pick.
United would likely post a link to the home shirt worn during the 2021/2022 season given their new shirt hasn’t been shown off yet.
Like other teams in the Premier League, they change jerseys every 12 months.
The last time United had a shirt for more than one season was between 2007 and 2009, when the club won the Premier League and Champions League titles under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Premier League club have held informal discussions with the 22-year-old about a move, but no offer has yet been submitted to Ajax
Manchester United have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Antony, with the Brazil winger determined to be reunited with Erik ten Hag.
Man Utd have held informal discussions over the 22-year-old but have not yet made an offer to Ajax.
Ten Hag wants to add to an attack that has lost Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard this summer, while Mason Greenwood continues to be unavailable. Antony has made it clear he wants to join his former manager at Old Trafford.
The forward has a strong relationship with Ten Hag after the pair worked together at Ajax, winning two Eredivisie titles and the Dutch cup.
The new manager remains a big admirer of Antony and identified him as a target during a transfer summit with football director John Murtough in Amsterdam last month.
Darwin Nunez was another target discussed, but Man Utd pulled out of a move for the Uruguayan who has signed for Liverpool in a deal that could be worth £85 million.
While Man Utd sources insist they did not want to get involved in a bidding war with their fierce rival, it is also understood Nunez had his heart set on Anfield.
Antony’s preference this summer is a move to Man Utd, who have also had to convince Frenkie de Jong that he should swap Barcelona for Manchester.