Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has acknowledged that despite Manchester United’s long-term interest in his signature, he always wanted to stay at Barcelona during the summer transfer window.
According to the Manchester Evening News, United swiftly picked the Dutch international as their top priority to strengthen their respective midfield options in May. De Jong had previously worked with Reds boss Erik ten Hag at Ajax, and the latter was looking forward to reuniting at Old Trafford.
At the end of June, United reached an agreement with Barcelona to purchase De Jong for an initial fee of €65 million (£56.14 million). The Reds were unable to forward in their pursuit of the 25-year-old because he owed €17 million in outstanding wages.
Despite pursuing the former Ajax star for more than 100 days, the Reds were eventually obliged to turn elsewhere for midfield reinforcements, signing Casemiro from Real Madrid, despite the fact that he is a different type of player than De Jong. The latter is a player that prefers to go on the ball and play through the thirds rather than sitting deep and performing the dirty work.
De Jong has now acknowledged that he always intended to stay at Camp Nou throughout the transfer season. He did, however, refrain from disclosing too many specifics about why he was so eager to stay in Spain.
“I always intended to stay in Barcelona this summer, and that’s why I always stayed calm in the summer,” De Jong told reporters ahead of the Netherlands’ match against Poland on Thursday evening. “I can’t reveal too many specifics.
“But look, the club has its own ideas, and I have my own ideas, and sometimes they clash.” But, in the end, everything went OK.”
Despite his desire to remain at Barcelona, De Jong has failed to secure a regular spot in head coach Xavi’s plans this season. He has started only half of the Spanish giants’ first six La Liga games.
“I notice it when I play less,” De Jong remarked. “Not so much in terms of technical ability, since you still know how to play football, but more so in terms of physical ability.”