Erik ten Hag has reportedly earmarked Frenkie de Jong as a transfer priority as his Manchester United overhaul begins to take shape.
Date of Birth: 12/05/2022 (25)
Position: Central Midfield
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1,80 m (5ft 11 in)
Who is Frenkie de Jong?
Frenkie de Jong is a press resistant, deep-lying playmaker who displays a serenity on the ball. His play style can be best described as a slow dance around the pitch that sways to the tune of a possession hungry manager.Embed from Getty Images
He has quickly established himself as one of Europe’s best midfielders over the last few years. The Dutchman began his career at Willem II and later made the switch to Ajax where he made his debut in 2016 – at 19 years of age. De Jong can boast an Eredivisie title and the KNVB cup during his time at Ajax. However, it was in the 2018/19 Champions League season that De Jong announced himself to the world. The Dutchman was without a doubt one of the principal members of that Ajax side that captured the hearts of many football fans as de Godenzonen made it to the Champions League semi-final.
In the summer of 2019, De Jong made a big-money move to Barcelona for a fee in the region of €85m. Despite having a few low points so far at Barcelona, De Jong has done relatively well during his time in Spain.Embed from Getty Images
According to various reports, De Jong could potentially reunite with his former manager, Ten Hag, this summer at Old Trafford. De Jong has stated publicly that he wants to stay at Barcelona and by all accounts, Barca manager Xavi also wants to keep him. However, an offer in the region of £70m could be enough to tempt Barcelona into selling for economic reasons.
De Jong plays his best football in possession where he is able to manipulate play and make things happen. He’s completed 91% of his attempted passes in La Liga this season. In addition to that, his 82% attempted long pass completion rate, ranks him amongst the best in Europe. As per FBref, over the last year, he’s averaged over seven ball carries per 90 as well as 5.22 progressive passes per game. Similarly, De Jong’s dribbling ability is another outstanding attribute to his game, completing 85% of his dribbles in La Liga this season.Embed from Getty Images
De Jong’s football intelligence is also extremely impressive and his decision making on the ball makes him a joy to watch.
With Frenkie de Jong, there are very few outstanding weaknesses in his game. Although many fans question his defensive capabilities. Playing predominantly in sides that hope to play high-percentage possession football, his overall defensive actions do not necessarily stack up the best with his positional counterparts across Europe. Saying that he has everything a midfielder needs to be world-class and deployed correctly his numbers defending his own backline could easily improve.
Where would De Jong fit in at Manchester United?Embed from Getty Images
With Paul Pogba set to depart Manchester United on a free transfer this summer, United will need to sign a replacement and De Jong is arguably the best option to fill the no.8 role at Old Trafford. Ten Hag’s preferred formations are the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3.
In a 4-2-3-1, De Jong would hopefully play alongside an out and out defensive midfielder. In a 4-3-3, he’d play as a no.8 next to Bruno Fernandes or potentially even Donny van de Beek with a defensive midfielder behind them.
Even if United do sign De Jong, it’s still essential the club sign a specialist defensive midfielder to help accommodate him. The club have been linked to a host of players to fill that role such as Boubacar Kamara, Aurelien Tchouameni and Kalvin Phillips*.
VerdictEmbed from Getty Images
De Jong has been decent for Barcelona in his three years at the club but has struggled to reach the heights he would’ve imagined. While De Jong likely wants to stay at Barcelona, a move away from the Camp Nou might actually be beneficial for his career. A move to United this summer could be what he needs and he’d be playing under a manager who knows how to get the best out of him and knows his game very well. De Jong would be almost a guaranteed starter and could play a pivotal part in taking Man United back to the top of world football. He’s 25 years old and is now entering his prime years which would make it the perfect time for any club to sign him.
De Jong would be the perfect signing for Ten Hag at United and if it’s possible, the Reds need to act quickly to secure the Dutchman’s signature.
*All statistics are subject to the time of writing.