The Frenkie de Jong Saga: A Case Study in Ineptitude or a Game of 3D Chess?

Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United?

One of the worst kept secrets in football is that Manchester United, specifically Erik ten Hag, wants Frenkie de Jong. It has been months of speculation, while United fans are forced to keep sucking on this salt rock of a transfer saga. Yet, as fans, we continue to be vellicated repeatedly by the media.

No one except de Jong, Barcelona and United really know what is going on.

Is he coming to United? What’s the hold up? Why are Manchester United so fixated on him? Is he really worth it considering he has yet to reach the kind of form we saw at Ajax? What is Barcelona trying to pull? When will he sign if he does?

Countless questions surround the Frenkie de Jong saga. There is so much speculation, and too many pundits with their own opinions. So, lets dive in and see what’s what with this catastrophe of a situation. And believe me when I say this whole situation is absolutely a catastrophe whether Frenkie comes to United or not.

There’s an Agreement in Place

Here is what we know so far, as close to facts as possible.

Manchester United Closing In On Stunning €80 Million Move For Barcelona Star Frenkie De Jong
Credit: Image: Sport Bible

Manchester United have made a bid in principle for Frankie de Jong in excess of £78 million after add-on’s. This is a broad agreement which has been deemed acceptable by Barcelona, but many of the finer points of the agreement still need to be worked out.

Details such as the nature of the performance-based add-on’s and how much money Barcelona want up front.

It is widely believed by many news pundits that Manchester United and Barcelona have ironed out most of the rest of the agreement. However, those details still remaining don’t seem to be what is holding up the deal. Barcelona are choosing to play hard to get. Their current financial situation dictates they milk as much out of this deal as possible.

The Barcelona Frenkie de Jong Shitshow

To fully understand this de Jong debacle, we must first look at the financial situation that Barcelona are embroiled in at the moment.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed the LaLiga giants are 1.35billion euros in debt (Joan Monfort/AP/Press Association Images)
Joan Laporta trying to explaining Barcelona’s financial crisis at the annual board meeting. Credit: Image: The Independent

Barcelona currently holds more than £1.35 billion in debt with decreasing revenue. That is almost triple United’s current debt. Their financial crisis is so dire that La Liga has imposed a salary cap on the team of around £140 million annually. They have also had to ask most of their players, including Frenkie de Jong, to accept deferred wages because they don’t have the capital to pay their current players. And the current salary cap prevents them from paying out wages in full.

Barcelona blame COVID and their lack of revenue during lock down. The truth is they spent way too much money on players that didn’t, or have yet to work out. Coutinho – £175 million. Dembele – £130 million. Griezman – £125 million. de Jong – £86 million. And they offered most of these players astronomical wages.

Yet they continue to buy players like Andreas Christensen, Frankie Kessie, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Jules Kounde. While also being rumored to be negotiating with City over Bernardo Silva. They also just renewed Ousmane Dembele’s contract for a small fortune. And Joan Laporta wont stop flirting with Messi in the media. All together they have tallied up almost another £140 million in transfer business this summer.

But they have yet to register a single one of those new players.

What are Barcelona Trying to Pull?

With all that debt and a salary cap, how, might you ask can Barcelona afford to spend more money in this summer’s transfer market than any other team in topflight football, so far? The short answer is they can’t.

Barcelona TV rights: FC Barcelona sell additional 15% TV rights to Sixth  Street, Check DETAILS

But, the transfer window hasn’t closed yet. Barcelona is banking on selling the likes of Frenkie de Jong, who is one of their highest earners. They also intend to sell or release a few others, like Depay, in order to fund the salaries of all of these deals.

Barcelona have already brought in all these players. If they can’t offload a few of their highest earners then they will not be able to register their new signings for this season. Essentially Barcelona has no choice but to sell. It’s very similar to the situation that caused Messi to leave.

They have, since the end of last season sold an additional 15% of their future media rights for the next 25 years just to keep the lights on. And the company Sixth Street they sold the rights to, is known for shady dealings, scamming clients, and having less than legitimate sources for their revenue.

Many seem to think that because they now have a cash influx of almost £300 million, from selling their souls, that this means that they now have the money to solve all their problems.

Frenkie de Jong and Barcelona’s Reality

This has all led to speculation that Barcelona now feels with this influx that they have the upper hand in the de Jong transfer. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Barcelona is already over their salary cap with their current crop of players. This is why they have had to ask so many players to take deferred wages or salary cuts. Some of which Barcelona doesn’t have to pay out for two to three more years.

This cash influx does little more than keep the lights on and the creditors away. De Jong’s salary barely offsets that of Lewandowski. Let alone the other four first team players they have already signed this summer.

In spite of the all the math that is there for the whole world to see, Joan Laporta continues to throw caution to the wind. He has repeatedly stated to Spanish media that they do not want to sell Frenkie. Barcelona’s media department and Frenkie’s PR staff also continues to leak statements saying de Jong doesn’t want to leave them.

A Propaganda Machine for Our Entertainment

All propaganda designed to appease the fans, appease Frenkie and drudge more money out of United. Would de Jong prefer to stay with his boyhood dream club, sure. But, that doesn’t mean the rumors are true that de Jong doesn’t want to come to United. Frenkie has to say he wants to stay to keep his upper hand in negotiating the payout of his deferred wages.

I can’t imagine ten-Hag telling Murtough to stick with Frenkie for this long unless ten-Hag and Frenkie have already had a conversation to the contrary of the rumors.

How, could it all be propaganda? Yet again, we must rely on my amateur ability to read the tea leaves, combined with reports from experts like Fabrizio Romano.

Fabrizio Set the Frenkie de Jong Situation Straight

Romano, has repeatedly come out and reported that there is a broad agreement in place between United and Barcelona and that United are still in pursuit with optimism. He has also said that de Jong’s wages shouldn’t be a problem.

Credit: Image: YouTube

Romano continues to also say de Jong would be willing to team back up with former coach ten-Hag if Barcelona insist on, or need to, sell him. The sticking point is his back due wages at Barcelona.

Barcelona are extremely cash poor. As previously mentioned, they asked a lot of players to take deferred wages. Frenkie was one who agreed. Now Barcelona owe de Jong almost £17 million in back wages. They sold de Jong on the tag line of doing what’s best for the club. They told him he could endear himself to the club and fans more by him making this sacrifice.

The further gut punch to de Jong is that most of those due wages are in loyalty bonuses. Isn’t that some kind of ironic.

Frenkie de Jong vs Barcelona

Regardless of whether de Jong leaves Barcelona, the deadline to pay him his back wages was in March. Barcelona initially offered him around £5 million to walk away and told him they couldn’t afford his wages anymore. As you can imagine he turned them down.

Frenkie has to play hard ball with Barcelona. He is understandably under no obligation to accept their offer. Compounding the situation is Laporta saying they love de Jong and want him to stay. All fluff media so they can appear to be content keeping him, effectively hiking up his sale price.

Then, because Barcelona can’t afford to pay de Jong all his deferred wages, they tried to yet again increase his price tag when United came knocking. They thought they could subtly pass on the cost of those wages by slipping it into the transfer fee. Murtough might be stupid, but he isn’t that stupid. So, now we are stuck in a perpetual game of hurry up and wait.

Why are United Waiting for Frenkie de Jong?

What does this all mean for his transfer to United? As has been suggested repeatedly in the media and on the American Red Devils Pod, United wouldn’t continue waiting for de Jong if two things haven’t been true up to this point.

First is that ten-Hag wants de Jong, full stop. And the second is that de Jong’s camp, in spite of all the posturing going on, has indicated to United that this is a deal to be done. All that United should do it sit tight while Frenkie and Barcelona sort out their issues.

But, United will have to wait while Barcelona find a solution to de Jong’s wages and then the move will happen almost overnight, probably in the last week of the window if at all.

Is Chelsea a Contender for de Jong?

Frenkie De Jong Has Told Chelsea That He Prefers To Join Manchester United
Credit: Image: Sport Bible

However, there seems to be some more very speculative rumors coming out in the last days. Rumors that Chelsea are interested in de Jong who can offer him Champions League football. They are apparently also willing to include several players in a player swap deal. Players like Marcos Alonso, whom Barcelona have already inquired about this summer.

Most of these Chelsea rumors are coming out of Spain. This means that it is more likely that Barcelona are drudging up more rumors to try again to push Manchester United into a deal. Regardless, if it’s Chelsea or United, de Jong has no interest in leaving Barcelona until he comes to an agreement with them over his deferred wages.

Where Does the Frenkie de Jong Saga Go From Here?

Where, then, does this saga go from here?

At this point I think it is too optimistic to believe de Jong will be a United player before this transfer deadline. If United fans are to believe the latest slag that tabloid media is feeding us, Barcelona may have found a solution to keeping de Jong.

Again, I should reiterate that if de Jong and Barcelona were given their ideal plot, de Jong would stay at Barcelona. The Catalan giants want him to stay, they just don’t want to pay him. De Jong wants to stay but doesn’t like how he’s being treated and wants his money.

But none of this means he doesn’t want to play for United. Again Frenkie wanting to stay at Barcelona is PR from his camp to keep leverage over Barcelona. But, Barcelona seem to scrounging around for the cheapest solution on their end, and they may have found one that allows them to keep de Jong.

Frenkie de Jong to Stay at Barcelona

Now, supposedly, de Jong and Barcelona are in negotiations to pay down his deferred wages with their original £5 million offer and continue to defer the rest of his wages for another season. Now Barcelona’s come up with a new propagandist tag line; One more season of revenue and fans in the stands should steady their ship enough to pay off the rest of what they owe him.

If this is true then Frenkie stays at Barca. Barca don’t have to pay him off immediately and both parties get what they want while United is left wafting in the wind, over paying for our second choice players because the whole world knows we need a midfielder.

So far this is the most speculative rumor I’ve heard. Simply because if you chase this rumor down the rabbit hole, its sources are a few less than reputable Spanish tabloids with no sources themselves. Not to mention they are the same media outlets that Barcelona regularly leaks information through.

This is simply the way Barcelona has always done business. They use various media outlets to leverage deals with false rumors and exuberant statements from the manager and President.

The Legality of de Jong’s Current Deal

To add insult to injury to Frenkie de Jong there are some rising complications with his current deal. De Jong signed for Barcelona while they were being run into the ground by the previous regime. A fact that current Barcelona president Joan Laporta isn’t letting anyone forget.

The claim being investigated by the Barcelona legal department is of the legitimacy of Frenkie de Jong’s current deal. Barcelona are claiming that there are fraudulent and illegal aspects of his current deal.

If these claims are founded, then Barcelona claim that they have the power to null and void his fraudulent contract and renegotiate a new one. They supposedly plan to leverage this information over Frenkie to avoid paying his deferred wages and force him into a new contract that is more lucrative for the club.

Barcelona go further to also say that while they are investigating his contract or negotiating a new contract, de Jong cannot be sold. Without a valid contract with Barcelona, the legality around selling him while in contract negotiations is murky at best. While a massive buy out clause is mooted to prevent future suiters from paying market rate for de Jong.

When Will Manchester United Move On?

Manchester United midfield options as Erik ten Hag rebuild begins | Daily  Mail Online
Rumored alternate midfield targets if Frenkie de Jong fall through. Credit: Image: Daily Mail

What gives some credence to all this speculation is another rumor popping up that United have been in contact Tielemans’, Neves’ and Milinkovic-Savic’s representatives. And it broke this week that United have had a bid for Adrien Rabiot accepted by Juventus. Seemingly United are gearing up to pursue their secondary targets.

Perhaps this could be more false media being generated by United to tell Barcelona they are willing to walk away. Perhaps this is more fake rumors put out into the ether to light a fire under Barcelona. But, I doubt it.

With the transfer window now weeks away from closing and United still bare bones in the midfield, the footballing world knows Manchester United’s situation.  It is more likely that Frenkie de Jong does not sign for United, as United become more vulnerable the longer this saga drags on.

My heart tells me we should continue to go all in for de Jong, as he is ten-Hag’s number one target. To fault or triumph. All the credible information available suggests that de Jong will be a Red Devil next season, so I want to believe it.

Cautious Optimism Over de Jong

United simply have too terrible a front office to give me any faith that this situation won’t end in Manchester United capitulating again, allowing themselves to be exploited in one way or another. So…

My head tells me we will naïvely wait too long for de Jong to realize that we can’t get him. Considering we are about there already. Since the Wolves owner placed a £100 million price tag on Neves back in January, Neves ends up being too expensive.

United then move on to another alumni of the Woodward era transfer rumor mill in Milinkiovic-Savic or Tielemans. But, United end up paying too much for either of them because we find ourselves in the last week of the window with only three signings after loosing seven first team players.

But ten Hag will have to swallow that pill because he needs bodies.

Where Does Rabiot fit into this Equation?

All the while, United have been Working quietly in the background on a deal for French international, and Juventus outcast, Adrien Rabiot. Make no mistake, this is a deal simply to get bodies in the door. I don’t believe Rabiot will play a prominent roll as long as we pick up another midfielder in de Jong or a like alternative.

But, the Frenchman is a better, more experienced player than the McFred with cheese happymeal that we are still forced to suffer as this season kicks off.

Manchester United agrees deal to sign Adrien Rabiot - Report
Juventus accept a bid from Manchester United for Adrien Rabiot.

At the age of only 27, an imposing stature at 6’2″, he can still put in a shift. For both PSG and Juventus he averaged 35 games a season. He has won a UEFA Nations League trophy with France. He also won Serie A, the Copa Italia twice and the Italian Supercoppa with Juventus. And he was integral in the PSG side that won the French League 1 five times, and thirteen French domestic cups.

Meaning he is a first team player. And a good player to rotate with de Jong. But he has a history of off field disciplinary issues and can lack match focus at time. While he is also a more defensively adept midfielder than de Jong. So as long as we bring in the likes of de Jong, Tielimens, Neves or Milinkovic-Savic, Rabiot will serve only as a rotational player.

The front office will paint it all as a victory because we paid less than the £100 million that Wolves were asking for Neves but still end up paying £75 million for Milinkovic-Savic or Tielemans whom are hardly worth half that. Rabiot will simply be a ‘consolation prize.’

What Does Frenkie de Jong Bring to Manchester United?

I supposed we will know soon enough.

The next and last question on many fans lip is why does ten-Hag want de Jong so much, why are we so intent on signing this one player above all?

The answer to that question is the only simple one in this circuitous article. In ten Hag’s own words, “he is not a goalscorer” … ”he is the player who supplies the teammates, who give the assists or who score the goals.”

De Jong is a build up player. He takes possession of the ball and progresses it forward into attacking positions. His style is that of a supplier to the suppliers. If that makes sense. All too often de Jong is the player to provide that key pass into a dangerous area to allow the attackers to work their magic.

The Perfect Modern Midfielder

His strongest attribute is his ability to knit defense into attack. He has vision, tactical awareness, the strength and footwork to shrug off opposition players. Not to mention his passing range is reminiscent of Paul Scholes.

Frenkie De Jong’s Stats Show Why Barcelona Have 'One Of The Best Midfielders In The World'
Frenkie de Jong stats. Credit: Image: Sport Bible

When he ties all of that together, like he did at Ajax under ten Hag, he has the ability to unlock and control games. He also shields the defense. Not as a defensive midfielder would do though.

Rather, he does this through is ability to cut out opposition passes high up the field. While his tactical positioning is so good that cuts out the opposition passing lanes. His work rate is one of the highest in La Liga, and he hardly ever gets injured or carded.

In ten Hag’s system with a lot of high pressing, the striker is the tip of the sword, de Jong is the tang.

De Jong’s Numbers don’t Lie

His passing range, passing accuracy, expected assists, goal involvements were all in the 91st+ percentile when he played. His ability to keep possession is in the 99th+ percentile. And his forward passing attempts and forward passing accuracy is in 97th + percentile. That’s better than any of United’s current crop including former wantaway Paul Pogba.

He knits everything together from front to back. Considering the way ten Hag wants to play, potentially with Eriksen and Bruno in the same team, we need a player like de Jong to move the ball and dictate play. We need a player to knit things together.

Consider how many times last season a major complaint in United’s play was how often players were caught out of position. And players constantly looked devoid of ideas. We were allowing the opposition to play around us. (Ok maybe that’s three problems). This happens because United did not have an anchor.

We Need Frenkie de Jong

Fred and McTominay did not know how to play as two holding 6’s, but they were forced to play there because Matic was too old and couldn’t play regularly. Fred plays as an attacking midfielder for Brazil and did the same at Shakhtar Donetsk. McTominay started out as a striker as a youth player and was moved into a no.8 position at United U21 levels.

Neither of these players was equipped to take on a holding midfield roll full time, but during the Ole era, and even now, they are simply the best players United has to play in those positions, regardless of their flaws.

De Jong is ten Hag’s golden ticket to solve this problem and build a dominant midfield. And in ten Hag’s book, no other player would be better at filling that roll and bringing United’s midfield together than Frenkie. A three man midfield of de Jong, Eriksen and Bruno with Donny and Rabiot as the primary rotation players looks to be the start of a damn good midfield.

Until ten Hag is convinced otherwise or Frenkie de Jong categorically turns down United, the pursuit will continue. So strap in for more frustration, ineptitude and overspending. Same shit different day at Manchester United.

Glory, Glory Man United.

About Keagan Priest McNicol 26 Articles
My Name is Keagan. I am a lifelong fan of the Red Devils and the beautiful game. My favorite things in the world are my family and friends, Manchester United, good food, the great outdoors, sarcasm and tennis. Green and gold until the club is sold.

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