Barcelona coach Xavi has issued a warning to Manchester United amid claims Erik ten Hag wants to bring Frenkie de Jong to Old Trafford this summer.
The new United boss is planning wholesale changes this summer and is ready to get tough with his under-performing side. Indeed, in his interview, he insists no big names will be safe from the axe in his attempts to get the Red Devils upwardly mobile.
However, despite admitting he’s already turning his thoughts to United, the incoming coach is adamant his focus remains with Ajax. As such, he’s looked to reassure the Dutch media his attention remains on the Amsterdammers’ title push. Furthermore, he’s also ghosted questions about United’s damaging defeat at Arsenal on Saturday.
That said, Ten Hag will be unable to prevent his impending move weighing heavy in his mind. Taking on arguably the biggest job in world football, United have fallen badly off the levels seen in the golden years under Sir Alex Ferguson.
And closing the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City will be an extremely difficult task.
He will likely lean on interim boss Ralf Rangnick to help compile a dossier on the club’s current playing squad. To that end, the German claims the club needs something akin to open-heart surgery to fix their issues.
Top of their list of fixes is likely to be defensive improvements. The side have shipped seven in their last two games alone, making it 51 for the season. That is their worst tally in well over 40 years. And to put into context, relegation-threatened Burnley have only conceded 45 by comparison.
Ten Hag, though, will also be looking to strengthen his midfield. That was an area first outlined as an area of weakness by Rangnick when he took temporary control.
As such, Saturday’s Transfer Gossip claims United are casting admiring glances towards Barcelona star De Jong.
The Netherlands midfielder was reared at Ajax, so knows Ten Hag well.
Xavi keen to keep Frenkie De Jong
However, it seems prising him away from Barcelona will be no easy task. And Barcelona coach Xavi has quickly issued a firm response to claims that De Jong may be Old Trafford bound.
“I haven’t talked with him about his future,” Xavi said.
“He is playing at a very good level and has to continue here – he can be one of the best midfielders in the world for years to come.
“If it were up to me, I would continue here for many more years. He is very important and can mark an era here. He has to score, assist and he has to be the protagonist.”
Those comments follow up from comments Xavi made about De Jong back in December.
“Frenkie de Jong will not leave the club. He’s not for sale – we consider Frenkie as a key player for Barca,” he stated.
Four midfielders may leave Man Utd
With Ten Hag very much focusing on United’s midfield, a report in the Sunday Mirror claims doubts remain over all four of their current centre midfield options.
The first of those, Nemanja Matic, has already confirmed his plans to leave this summer.
He will likely be followed out the door by Paul Pogba, who, after picking up an injury, looks to have played his last game for the club.
However, the paper states the jury remains out on both Fred and Scott McTominay.
The pair are perhaps considered United’s first-choice midfielders, though doubts remain on both players.
The report claims Ten Hag wants a box-to-box midfielder and ‘doubts remain over McTominay’s ability to succeed at the highest level’.
While it’s unlikely all four will leave in the same summer, their long-term futures remain under the spotlight.
The report, however, states the appointment of Ten Hag may yet see Donny van de Beek getting a second chance.
Signed for £40m from Ajax in 2020, he has struggled to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League.
Now on loan at Everton, it seems he will be offered a fresh chance to prove himself under his former manager next season.
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