Frenkie de Jong has struggled to impose himself at Barcelona since turning down a summer move to Manchester United. – Sport Media News

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Manchester United will be keeping a close eye on proceedings on the international stage this evening, with the current international break poised to explode into life tonight.

Several members of Erik ten Hag’s squad have been called up by their respective nations for this current break, which marks the last opportunity for national team managers to assess their players ahead of deciding on their World Cup squads. The likes of Raphael Varane, Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia could all be in action tonight for France, Denmark and the Netherlands, respectively.

United will be sure to keep a watchful eye on matters, not least in the hope of avoiding any injury issues. Ten Hag is already battling a handful of problems within his squad and will be determined to keep the Carrington treatment room as clear as possible ahead of a relentless-looking October schedule.

As well as using the international break to keep a close eye on their players, United are also using this current hiatus to talk transfer plans ahead of January. The club recruited six new faces during the summer and it is very much possible that they could dive back into the market in the New Year.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has admitted that he always wanted to stay at Barcelona during the summer transfer window amid Manchester United’s long-term interest in his signature.

As reported by the Manchester Evening News back in May, United quickly identified the Netherlands international as their top target to strengthen their respective midfield options. De Jong had worked with Reds manager Erik ten Hag at Ajax and the latter was keen for a reunion at Old Trafford.

United agreed a deal with Barcelona to sign De Jong at the end of June, reaching an agreement over an initial €65million (£56.14m) fee. However, the Reds were unable to advance with their quest to sign the 25-year-old because he was owed €17million in deferred wages.

United ace Scott McTominay helped Scotland make a winning start to this current international break last night, playing the full 90 minutes in their 3-0 win over Ukraine at Hampden Park.

The Scots moved to the top of Group B1 in the UEFA Nations League, leapfrogging Ukraine in the process, thanks to goals from Lyndon Dykes (2) and John McGinn.

McTominay and Scotland will be in action again on Saturday, facing the Republic of Ireland, also at Hampden Park.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong may live to regret his decision to turn down a summer move to Manchester United as he looks to earn a place in the Netherlands squad for this year’s World Cup. The Dutchman was relentlessly targeted by United in one of the main transfer sagas of pre-season but ended up staying at the Nou Camp after refusing to entertain the idea of joining the Red Devils.

United even managed to agree a fee at club level with Barcelona but were thwarted by De Jong’s determination to stay and fight for his place, missing out on his signature as a result. The former Ajax midfielder has only featured sporadically at Barcelona since the end of the transfer window, though, with his lack of minutes potentially able to harm his chances of starting for the Netherlands in Qatar later this year.

Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal admitted on Tuesday that De Jong’s variable playing time could be a concern ahead of the World Cup, with this month’s Nations League fixtures against Poland and Belgium set to serve as the final warm-up matches for the tournament.

“It is true that many players called me in the transfer window,” began Van Gaal at a press conference. “But I always ended every conversation with: ‘This is my advice, but you make your own decision’.

“I am happy with the outcome. But I would be happier if Frenkie and Memphis [Depay] would play more than they are now.”

De Jong will be desperate to nail down a place in the Netherlands squad by impressing against Poland on Thursday before returning to Barcelona at the end of the international break. He is currently the highest-paid player at the Nou Camp but has been reduced to a bit-part role over the course of this season, with Xavi having rotated between De Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi and Franck Kessie in midfield as of late.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether United will eventually decide to reignite their pursuit of the Dutch playmaker, who is still tied down to Barcelona until the summer of 2026 as things stand. The Red Devils went on to sign Casemiro after giving up on De Jong over the summer but it has been suggested that Erik ten Hag could be eager to bring in another central midfielder between now and the start of next season.

The United boss is reportedly set to be given at least £75million to use as he sees fit in January after spending in excess of £200m on new players during the summer months. Ten Hag’s mid-season budget could also rise by another £25m if Cristiano Ronaldo leaves United at the turn of the year, which may boost their hopes of finally landing De Jong if they decide to try again.

According to a report by Sport, as cited by Sport Witness, United have ‘already begun’ pursuing a deal for AS Monaco defender Vanderson.

The 21-year-old Brazilian, who is a right-back, is highly-rated by the French club and is also being linked with Barcelona. It is claimed that Monaco value him at more than £50million.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has made it clear that he had no intentions of leaving the Spanish giants to join United during the summer transfer window.

The Netherlands international was a leading target for manager Erik ten Hag throughout the summer, with the latter quickly pinpointing him as the ideal option to strengthen his midfield. United agreed a fee with Barcelona to sign the 25-year-old, but they failed to make the breakthrough they wanted because of problems between Barcelona and De Jong.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes is not surprised that Cristiano Ronaldo has no intention to retire from international football.

Ronaldo reiterated he does not plan to retire from international football this week, as he revealed he wants to play for Portugal at the 2024 European Championship. Ronaldo will celebrate his 38th birthday in February and he would be aged 39 should he play at Euro 2024.

Although Ronaldo is now in the winter of his career, he scored 24 goals in all competitions last season and he was United’s topgoalscorer by some distance. Ronaldo also broke the all-time international scoring record in September last year.

Ronaldo and Fernandes play together for both club and country and the midfielder was asked about his teammate’s ambition to continue to play international football at a press conference on Wesnesday afternoon, where he admitted it does not surprise him.

“Whoever could believe that he didn’t want to be at that [2024] European Championship doesn’t know him,” Fernandes said via ESPN. “We know well the resilience, taste and ambition he has shown over the years. It’s not new.

“We know that Cristiano wants to achieve things that others have never achieved. He will always have the same importance. He is the best player in the world, and he will continue to overcome barriers that others cannot.”

While Ronaldo’s contract at Old Trafford expires in the summer of 2023, there is the option for an additional year. Ronaldo wanted to leave United this summer, but the only serious proposal he received was from Saudi Arabia.

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However, De Jong refused to enter into personal negotiations with Man United, who continued their pursuit of the Netherlands international for some time in the hope of changing his mind.

In the end, Man United walked away from De Jong and instead struck a deal for Real Madrid’s Casemiro, and the Barcelona man has now broken his silence on the summer saga.

Frenkie de Jong in action for Barcelona on August 13, 2022

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Netherlands’ Nations League showdown with Poland on Thursday, De Jong insisted that he kept a cool head throughout the summer due to his desire to remain at Camp Nou.

“I always wanted to stay at Barcelona and this is why I always remained calm in the summer,” De Jong told a press conference.

However, the ex-Ajax man was rumoured to have felt disrespected by Barcelona at some points during the window when it appeared that the Catalan giants were attempting to force him out of the club.

Man United’s lack of Champions League football and his deferred wages at Barcelona both contributed to his decision to stay at the club, while Xavi and Joan Laporta publicly announced their desires to keep him.

De Jong has admitted that there were some disagreements between player and club during the protracted saga, though, adding: “I can’t give too many details away.

“But look, the club has its own ideas and I have my own ideas too, and sometimes this clashes with each other. But at the end of the day things went okay.”

De Jong remains under contract at Camp Nou until the end of the 2025-26 season and has amassed 14 goals and 18 assists in 148 appearances for Barcelona since arriving in 2019.

Added competition for places in the midfield means that De Jong has found starts hard to come by this season, making the first XI in four of his side’s eight games in La Liga and the Champions League.

Gavi and Pedri have established themselves as integral cogs in Xavi’s engine room, while Franck Kessie arrived from AC Milan in the summer, but he is also struggling for regular starting roles.

The Catalans also have Sergio Busquets on the books, although the 34-year-old is only under contract in Catalonia for another nine months and is being tipped to leave at the end of the season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Ruben Neves, Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi and Rennes’ Lovro Majer have all been named as potential successors to Busquets if he does depart next summer.

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