This summer, Manchester United want to sign a midfielder. And it’s emerged that Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona is their No 1 target as Erik ten Hag looks to make his mark. Compared to Wesley Sneijder, the Red Devils can finally make amends for failing to land the Netherlands international back in the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Any deal for De Jong won’t be easy for United to strike.
They’re set to be without Champions League football, having failed to qualify for the competition for the fourth time in nine years.
De Jong is happy to stay at Barcelona, having arrived from Ajax with big expectations back in the summer transfer window of 2019.
And, if he was to be forced out, he’d rather go to a team with a winning project. Manchester City and Bayern Munich, in particular, have also been linked.
But that hasn’t stopped United, and Ten Hag, from dreaming of a sensational move to Old Trafford.
The Red Devils have seen many Dutch players thrive at the club, from Ruud van Nistelrooy to Robin van Persie, Edwin van der Sar to Daley Blind.
Erik ten Hag: Man Utd’s 25-man squad for next season with six signings
But one player who previously got away from the Red Devils was Sneijder, who Ferguson wanted to sign during his tenure.
In 2010, reports came out saying the Dutchman was close to joining the club after dazzling for Inter Milan in Serie A.
Yet United ended up missing out, settling for the arrivals of the likes of David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young instead.
De Jong has been compared to Sneijder, however, and United can now make amends for that mistake.
It was former Chelsea and Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas, speaking in 2019, who said the 25-year-old had similarities with Sneijder and Rafael Van der Vaart.
“De Jong has that technique, the same as players in the class of Van der Vaart and Sneijder,” he said.
Ten Hag’s 10 transfer targets at Man Utd explained
Antony comments suggest Ten Hag reunion at Man Utd is possible
Man Utd have five players who can be amazing under Ten Hag
“He’s one of those players who controls the ball and has that classic Dutch style.”
How United need a controller in the middle of the park.
None of their current midfielders are able to dictate play, with their talents instead better in other departments.
And, by the time the transfer window reopens, United may not have much of a midfield left.
Paul Pogba is set to go, with the France international linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Manchester City.
THINK YOU KNOW SPORT? Test your sporting knowledge with our tricky quiz
Nemanja Matic has already confirmed he’s played at Old Trafford for the last time, with a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Roma on the cards.
And Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard are destined to join the pair out of the exit door as well.
If United sign De Jong, it would certainly be a statement signing.
Meanwhile, last year, Ferguson shut down suggestions that United were once on the verge of snapping up Sneijder.
“Well, you mention the boy Sneijder,” he told club media.
“That’s come up a lot of times but we were never interested in Sneijder. I don’t know where that came from but you get a lot of them.
Want the latest football news? Join our brand new Facebook group by clicking here
“Every Sunday, in The People, when I first came, they were throwing names in all the time, you know.”
Sneijder himself, however, said during his time at Galatasaray that he did hold talks with Ferguson.
“We had some talks with Alex Ferguson back in 2010,” he said.
“[United] contacted the [Inter] after our treble season but too much money was asked for. And I was also happy at Inter so I decided to stay.
“Manchester United are a fantastic club and they kept showing interest after that year but not as determined as before.
“I don’t give much thought about proposed transfers. If I’m happy somewhere, I’m happy there.”