Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is said to have argued with club officials about signings for Jude Bellingham and Frenkie de Jong. The Red Devils manager is believed to prefer a transfer for the Barcelona midfielder, whom he regards as ‘nearly indispensable’ in his system. In contrast, the club’s administration prefers the Borussia Dortmund star, who they see as a potentially generational talent.
It is no secret that De Jong was Ten Hag’s main transfer target throughout the summer transfer window, with the player’s drama lasting the majority of the summer. United accepted a bid of roughly £64 million for his services but was unable to persuade the Netherlands international to join the club, focusing on Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro.
When Bellingham was a 16-year-old at Birmingham City, United was one of the first clubs interested in signing him, but they were outbid by Dortmund. He has now become one of the most sought-after players in the world, with Real Madrid and Liverpool both keen on signing him as the Red Devils are ready to try their luck once more.
Signing both guys would be financially prohibitive, thus the club would have to choose one or the other, potentially causing a schism between Ten Hag and the United board. According to the Independent, the Dutchman has been in touch with Barcelona in the hopes of resurrecting the deal that appeared to be dead and buried in the summer. He considers his former Ajax prodigy to be ‘nearly irreplaceable’ in his system, which means he is still his first choice.
However, club executives regard Bellingham as a “possible generational prospect” who might secure the central midfield position for the next decade. As a result, a confrontation is anticipated as the two competing priorities collide.
Ten Hag was given renewed hope last week that he would be able to finalize a trade for De Jong, with Xavi discussing the possibility of putting the player in central defense. The 25-year-old is unlikely to be overjoyed at the prospect of playing in a new position, so if United approaches him again in January or next summer, he may be more amenable.
“Frenkie can play as a central defender – that is something we tried in pre-season and it worked really well,” Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde told reporters ahead of the club’s game against Celta Vigo. “He is a strong player who moves quickly. However, we have other options in that situation.
“We are really fortunate to have numerous multi-skilled individuals that can play in a variety of positions.” However, Frenkie is an alternative.”
Only time will tell how Ten Hag and the club approach their future transfer business, but it appears likely that they will clash if the choice is between De Jong and Bellingham.