Barcelona thought Man Utd were going to offer three players in Frenkie de Jong swap deal

De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links

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Just like in June and July, Manchester United look set to continue their pursuit of Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong throughout August. The Netherlands international has been pursued for months, now, with Erik ten Hag determined to bring him in. And, when it first became apparent the Red Devils wanted the 25-year-old, the Catalan giants reportedly thought they’d be offered three players in a swap deal.

With just a month of the transfer window to go, United are maintaining their pursuit of De Jong.

In their eyes, and those of Ten Hag, nobody compares to the Barcelona star. He’s seen as the ideal replacement for Paul Pogba, and somebody who can elevate the level of the existing squad.

Plenty is being written and said about De Jong with each passing day as the saga goes on, with no end in sight.

So, with that being the case, it’s time to throw things back by looking at when the story first broke.

In April, it was reported that Barcelona suspected United may try to include Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford or Alex Telles as part of a swap deal.

That always seemed rather ambitious and far-fetched but the trio have all been admired by the Catalan giants in the past.

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Maguire was actually linked with a move to Barcelona in 2018, shortly after shining for England at the World Cup.

He then proceeded to join United 12 months later, however, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sanctioning a massive £80million deal for the Netherlands international.

Telles’ name was mooted as a target during his time at Porto, but he’s been with the Red Devils since moving back in the summer transfer window of 2020.

Rashford, however, is a different case.

It’s also previously been claimed Rashford actually agreed to join Barcelona back when United were managed by Jose Mourinho, having struggled for consistency under the Portuguese.

Mourinho tinkered with the 24-year-old’s position, using him as a winger more than a striker.

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Yet Rashford was reluctant to leave United and penned a contract extension with the club in 2019, after Mourinho’s departure.

The saga has come a long way since then, however.

United have agreed a fee with Barcelona for De Jong, with the Red Devils prepared to pay an initial £63million to bring the midfielder to Old Trafford.

And that’s a fee that would make him the fifth most-expensive signing in the club’s history, behind the likes of Paul Pogba, Maguire, Romelu Lukaku and Jadon Sancho.

But then there’s the issue of the money De Jong is owed by Barcelona.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the Netherlands international agreed to take a temporary pay cut – like many of his team-mates.

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Barcelona are now due to pay their midfielder between £14 and £17m as a result.

Yet the La Liga side are currently unwilling to cough up all of the cash, despite spending big on Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Jules Kounde.

There have been murmurings of United potentially covering the costs, even though that would involve more of a financial sacrifice from the club.

And whether their pursuit of De Jong pays off in the right way is something only time will tell.

Former United star Louis Saha, meanwhile, doesn’t think his old side would be wasting their time on De Jong if they hadn’t received the right signals.

“He’s not in a small club, he’s at Barca,” he said.

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“You have to respect that and there is apparently a family aspect as well. The salary situation has also been discussed in the media.

“We don’t know all those answers but from what I heard people are not happy about how it’s been done, it’s a difficult situation to judge.

“If he was at a smaller club, it would be more embarrassing, but because it’s Barca you can see why any player would want to stay, particularly an established one who has been there for a few years and is happy.”

And he added: “The situation may change but I don’t think it’s embarrassing, it’s just not nice because it’s been dragged out and doesn’t help the manager’s plans. He wants a connection between these players.”

“None of us are sure about what’s been said, it’s not like he dislikes United, he probably just likes it at Barcelona.

“I understand that the press has been talking, the entourage is talking, and it has become very messy.”

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