Manchester United fear Barcelona will try to raise Frenkie de Jong’s fee in a bid to help solve their financial problems with one major departure, sources told ESPN.
The two clubs are in talks over a deal for De Jong, who has provided enough encouragement that he would be willing to move to Old Trafford to believe Eric ten Hag can reach a deal.
According to sources, Barcelona were eyeing €100m, but United’s valuation is close to €60m with the additions of the Dutch midfielder.
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Sources tell ESPN that the feeling within the club is that Barcelona is actively trying to get rid of De Jong in an effort to raise money to facilitate summer transfer plans and that this is reflected in the cost.
Ten Hag and director of football John Murtaugh prioritize signing a midfielder over attackers and defenders, but there are other names on the list other than De Jong.
Sources told ESPN that discussions with Barcelona accelerated after de Jong hinted he would be open to a move to United.
The 25-year-old initially seemed reluctant to leave Barcelona for a club outside the Champions League, but that attitude has softened.
PSG also showed interest when Barcelona offered de Jong to the big clubs in Europe. But as it stands now, United is the most viable option.
Meanwhile, United are still looking to bolster their attack streak after Liverpool acquired Benfica striker Darwin Nunez.
Sources told ESPN that United eventually decided they didn’t want to get into a fight with Liverpool and would instead turn their attention to other goals.
There is interest in Ajax winger Anthony, whom Ten Hag knows well from their time together in the Netherlands, and RB Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunko, although the priority remains to secure a midfielder.
Following the departures of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba, Ten Hag is short on midfield while the budget to bolster the attack is likely to depend on whether the club are interested in Anthony Martial.