‘We couldn’t always get the players we wanted’ – Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag confirms failed bid to sign Barcelona star Frenkie De Jong


WHAT HAPPENED?

Red Devils boss Ten Hag managed De Jong for two years at Ajax, with the pair winning the Eredivisie title and reaching the Champions League semi-finals together. United initially tried to sign the midfielder before his big-money switch to Barca in 2019 and were then locked in lengthy negotiations with the Spanish club in the summer of Ten Hag’s arrival, but a move never materialised.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

De Jong was key to Ten Hag’s possession-based style of play at Ajax and his arrival in 2022 could have helped the United boss instil those philosophies at Old Trafford. But the failure in recruiting a midfielder of De Jong’s ilk to partner Casemiro has seen the Red Devils struggle to deliver dominant performances and instead rely on a more direct playing style – which has resulted in criticism being aimed at the manager.

WHAT TEN HAG SAID

Ten Hag told Gary Neville in an interview with Sky Sports: “It would have been Frenkie de Jong and Casemiro [in midfield]. They would really be connected with each other. They would be really complementary to each other. That’s a typical player, if you want to play the Ajax style, you need that type of player.”

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