Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has labelled Frenkie de Jong as among “the best midfielders in the world” after Dwight Yorke claimed he privately would not rule out a transfer to Manchester United.
United had an initial transfer fee of £56.2million agreed with Barca to sign the 25-year-old midfielder last summer. At that time, former United striker Yorke managed Australian side Macarthur FC for a friendly clash against the Catalans – where he claims the conversation took place.
“I actually spoke to Frenkie de Jong when we played against him in the A-League All-Stars game in Australia,” Yorke explained. “I have a little bit of insight, he wanted to see what Barcelona would become under the new guidance of Xavi and see how that panned out before he decided if he wanted to join Manchester United.
“But there is a Dutch connection with Erik ten Hag, De Jong would be a great pick because he’s an excellent player. He would be the player that would fit into that midfield next to Casemiro and give us a bit more stability. Manchester United would have a very solid core to the team if he was to join.”
De Jong is once again top of United’s summer transfer shortlist as his former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag aims to bring him to Old Trafford. The midfielder’s preference is again to stay at the Blaugrana but that situation could change over the coming months.
Ten Hag keen to bolster his midfield ranks. He believes the Dutchman would be the perfect accompaniment for Christian Eriksen and Casemiro, of whom De Jong is a huge admirer. Marcel Sabitzer’s loan deal at United expires this summer and midfield is a priority for further strengthening.
The ongoing speculation has coincided with Barcelona boss Xavi singing the Dutchman’s praises. De Jong played an important role in his side’s slender victor at Athletic Club Bilbao on Sunday night – maintaining their nine-point lead at the top of La Liga.
“He has been at an extraordinary level for months,” Xavi raved after the win at San Mames. “He gives us a lot. He breaks lines of pressure, he drives forward.. he is one of the best midfielders in the world. He’s spectacular.”
Despite their domestic successes so far this campaign, Barca were eliminated at the group stages of the Champions League before being edged out by United in the Europa League playoff round last month.
The Premier League giants are hopeful that the midfielder may be persuaded into joining their Old Trafford project after sampling the atmosphere and the level of the team, which has been transformed by Ten Hag this campaign.