New Manchester United manager, Erik ten hag, is said to be growing increasingly restless over the club’s ongoing talks with Barcelona for the services of Frenkie de Jong.
The Dutch star is thought to be Ten Hag’s priority target, as he begins the unenviable task of rebooting the ailing Reds ahead of the coming season.
And The Athletic today reports that the two clubs find themselves “in a game of poker”, with United seemingly convinced that the Catalans’ economic woes could ultimately force their hand.
In an attempt to stymie their current debt crisis, the Camp Nou club recently revealed an agreement to leverage future TV and merchandise revenue against an expected €700m external cash injection.
News of the deal has seen Barca’s economic vice president, Eduard Romeu, attempting to downplay the need for the struggling giants to sell in order to free up cash for new signings and contract renewals.
He said, “In our budget and the number we have to close by June 30, there is no expected income from player sales. any decision we take in that regard will not (be) economical.”
John Murtough, United’s Football Director, is said to be keeping his powder dry, as the Reds look to exploit Barcelona’s mounting financial pressures.
The Reds are thought to be the only club pursuing De Jong, which has led them to believe that a lack of other viable options could help broach the current €10m to €15m gap between the two clubs’ valuations.
Perhaps understandably, Murtough’s high-stakes poker games are said to be giving Ten Hag his first authentic experience of ‘squeaky bum time’.
Although the Dutchman is thought to understand the need for his new club to squeeze as much as possible out of a reported £120m budget, he’s nonetheless said to be “…a little frustrated”.
It seems a given that the former Ajax coach will be determined to have snared his No.1 target ahead of the Reds’ pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia, beginning on July the 8th.
United are believed to have sounded at alternatives in the shape of Spurs-bound Yves Bissouma and Denmark star Christian Eriksen. However, De Jong is clearly the No.1 target and failure to land him would be a major blow.
Only time will tell if Murtough’s risky strategy will snare the midfield maestro. If he fails, it seems inevitable that unfavourable parallels will be drawn between the new and old regimes behind the scenes at Old Trafford.