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Manchester United chief ‘admits mistake over Frenkie de Jong pursuit’

Manchester United chief ‘admits mistake over Frenkie de Jong pursuit’

Manchester United football director John Murtough has allegedly accepted that the club should have dropped their interest in Frenkie de Jong earlier in the summer transfer window.

The 20-time English champions were heavily linked with the Barcelona midfielder during the recent market but were unable to convince him to make the move to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils eventually switched their attention to Casemiro, bringing in the Brazil international from Real Madrid to boost their midfield.

There were claims that Man United were still interested in De Jong up until the final moment of the window, but a deal for Ajax attacker Antony took priority before the deadline.

Murtough is believed to have travelled to Barcelona at least twice with a view to securing a deal for De Jong, who had reportedly been identified as Erik ten Hag‘s leading summer target.

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, Mitchell van der Gaag, director of football John Murtough, Steve McClaren and chief executive officer Richard Arnold in the stands on May 22, 2022© Reuters

However, according to ESPN, the Man United football director has privately accepted that the club should have walked away from the negotiations at an earlier stage.

The 25-year-old, who still has four years left to run on his contract with Xavi‘s side, has made three league appearances at the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

Barcelona are still believed to owe De Jong in the region of £17m in deferred wages, and the La Liga club had allegedly been keen on a sale this summer to ease their financial problems.

The Dutchman moved to Barcelona from Ajax in July 2019, and he has represented the club on 143 occasions in all competitions, contributing 13 goals and 18 assists, but his long-term future at Camp Nou remains unclear.

A recent report claimed that Man United are still keeping a close eye on the satiation surrounding the central midfielder and could reignite their interest in a later transfer window.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong in action in July 2022© Reuters

“I prefer to stay with Barcelona. Barcelona is just my dream club. Also from a young age. I just said it too. I’ve never regretted my choice despite the fact that I had hoped for more in terms of prizes than I’ve achieved so far. But I have never regretted my choice,” De Jong told ESPN back in June.

“You are always flattered when teams show interest in you as a player,” De Jong later told reporters. “But I think I am at the biggest club in the world at the moment and feel fine there so there is no news.”

De Jong will now compete with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri and Franck Kessie for the starting roles in the Barcelona midfield.

Man United managed to make six signings during the summer transfer window, bringing in Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro, Antony and Martin Dubravka.

Meanwhile, despite their financial issues, Barcelona signed Andreas Christensen, Kessie, Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, Hector Bellerin and Marcos Alonso.

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