Wednesday, February 28News That Matters

Erik ten Hag discovers Barcelona star blocking Man Utd from signing Frenkie de Jong

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has had to contend with Barcelona shot-stopper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen trying to prevent Frenkie de Jong from leaving.

The Dutchman was the Red Devils’ main target over the summer transfer window in a long-running saga. But, he chose to remain at the Camp Nou instead.

De Jong was linked with a move away from Barcelona over the summer with the La Liga club believed to view him as dispensable and a way to solve their financial problems.

The strongest speculation regarded Manchester United, with the club reportedly having a bid accepted, but Chelsea were also in the race to sign the midfielder.

But, De Jong decided to stay at Camp Nou and has been rewarded with a huge amount of match action. He has played 26 games in all competitions over the course of the season, helping complement Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Gavi.

The 25-year-old’s team mates are happy that he stayed, with Ter Stegen among them. The German keeper has said he would like to play with De Jong forever and would be ready to physically tie him down to do that as he looks to thwart Ten Hag’s possible future transfer plans.

“I think one day I will just put something here to keep him here forever. I hope he will be here for a long time,” Ter Stegen told reporters.

“I was hoping that he would stay [last summer] because this is the type of player I want to have in my team. There were many rumours and discussions but I am just happy that he stayed; I don’t want him to leave.

“I have a super high opinion of him but I also expect a lot from him because of the player he is. He has so much talent. He sees and feels football in a different way and he is someone that players like Gavi and Pedri, for example, can look up to.”

The two European clubs will face off in the Europa League on Thursday in a huge battle at the Camp Nou. Ter Stegen will be key to his team’s chances as he looks to prevent Marcus Rashford from continuing his superb run of form.

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