Manchester United have been in a constant dialogue with Barcelona for midfielder Frenkie de Jong this summer, but there are still far off from landing his signature.
United CEO Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough travelled to Barcelona on Monday to finalise the transfer, but it appears the purpose was unsuccessful.
While a broad agreement of €65 million (£56m) plus €20m (£17m) in add-ons has been agreed between the clubs, De Jong has yet to give the go-ahead for the move, as per Gerard Romero.
It is known that the Dutchman would ideally prefer to stay at Barcelona and play Champions League football. Amid his ongoing stance, here are three alternatives Man Utd can sign.
Ruben Neves – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Before De Jong came into United’s radar, there was much talk about Neves making the switch to Old Trafford. The Portuguese is vastly experienced in the Premier League, and is currently one of the top defensive midfielders.
In the recent top-flight campaign, he averaged 2.1 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game. He was also impressive with his hold-up play and dribbling, and created chances for his teammates with key passes.
One of the main strengths of his game is his tireless workrate. This is an attribute that should impress manager Erik ten Hag. He can also chip in with valuable goal contributions with his top-class set-pieces.
The 25-year-old still has two years remaining on his current Wolves deal. If United were to step up their interest, he won’t come on the cheap with the Midlands outfit eyeing around £75m for his services.
Youri Tielemans – Leicester City
Compared to Neves, Tielemans could be available for a much lesser fee with his contract expiring at the end of next season. He could be prised away for around £30m, but there could be competition from Arsenal.
The Belgium international is strong when it comes to tackling (2.3 per game) like Neves, but he is more of an attack-minded player. He made 10 goal contributions for the Foxes last term compared to Neves’ six.
Over the past few weeks, there has been speculation about him moving on, but a deal has not materialised. One of the reasons could be the fact that he was not at his best during the course of the 2021/22 campaign.
The 25-year-old was guilty of conceding four penalties with rash decision-making. A change of surroundings could transform his fortunes, and it won’t be a surprise if United make an approach for him.
Edson Alvarez – Ajax
We previously covered a similar topic in May where Alvarez was one of the alternative transfer targets alongside Cheick Doucoure and Yves Bissouma. Two of them have chosen new clubs.
Bissouma made the switch to Tottenham Hotspur from Brighton & Hove Albion while Crystal Palace recently confirmed Doucoure’s arrival from French top-flight club Lens.
Alvarez still remains available for a transfer, and taking the Ajax connection in mind, we won’t be amazed if Ten Hag looks for a reunion with the Mexico international.
The 24-year-old is a more natural defensive midfielder. He is similarly strong with his tackling and interceptions, but also has a strong aerial presence, something that Neves and Tielemans lack.
Distribution wise, he has also fared better than the Premier League duo, but he will need to step up to a bigger challenge. He could still be an option for Ten Hag if a deal for De Jong falls through.
Alvarez is well versed with Ten Hag’s style of play, having played under him for the last three seasons. Among the many Ajax players linked with United, he could be the cheapest with a price tag of £25m.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com, WhoScored.com and SofaScore.com
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