With Paul Pogba gone, Manchester United seem to have found their next big centre-midfielder in Barcelona man Frenkie de Jong. Erik ten Hag worked with the Dutchman during their days together at Ajax a few years ago, with De Jong being in the squad that went to the Champions League semifinals in the 2018/19 season.
The new United manager is keen on signing the 25-year-old to fix the midfield issues in the Red Devils’ squad. Though the two clubs first started negotiating more than a month ago, they now seem to be closing in on a deal (as per Fabrizio Romano).
The deal should get done soon and Frenkie is expected to be a Red Devil before the start of the new Premier League season. A talented, hard-working player with a varied skill-set, the Dutch midfielder can help fix some problems and unlock many of his teammates at Old Trafford. So let’s look at three Man United players who’d benefit the most from De Jong’s arrival.
Bruno Fernandes can get someone to share creative burden with
Bruno Fernandes endured a disappointing season with the Red Devils, criticized for failing to show up in pressure scenarios and big games. Bruno buckled under the weight of expectations to create all the chances and dictate the midfield tempo for United.
He could be free of some of his burdens if De Jong comes in. The Dutchman is an expert when it comes to helping dictate things in midfield and distribute the ball forward swiftly. De Jong also loves creating major scoring chances, possessing impressive through-ball and long-ball qualities.
He’d help Bruno be freer with his own duties in the attacking midfield role. Fernandes can focus on playing further forward, get involved in more scoring chances and take a few more risks in trying to score goals – knowing someone like Frenkie is there to create chances behind him.
A Donny van de Beek-Frenkie de Jong reunion?
Donny van de Beek’s career at Old Trafford has been unsavory. The Dutchman has failed to make any impact since arriving in 2020 and he’s not been able to impress any managers. But now he’ll reunite with Ten Hag, who brought out the best in him at Ajax.
Van de Beek has lots of experience playing with de Jong, his ex-Ajax teammate and a Dutch national teammate as well. The two have solid chemistry and understanding. More importantly, they know how to thrive in Ten Hag’s possession-based, attacking system of football.
Van de Beek could unlock his ultimate potential with de Jong helping him. Frenkie’s knowledge of Donny’s strengths and their chemistry could form a strong partnership at United. In doing so, Van de Beek could expect to see more game action, be more involved in goals and help his side win. He’d finally prove himself capable of being a starter for United.
Raphael Varane could find a reassuring figure in De Jong
While Frenkie de Jong is definitely not a traditional defensive-midfielder – normally expected to bully opponents, provide crunching tackles and win back the ball constantly – he can play in a deeper role. In fact, Frenkie’s favorite role is to play as a No. 6 where he can receive the ball from the defenders and help progress it forward.
That would benefit United’s centre-backs. In particular, it could make things a lot easier for Raphael Varane. The Frenchman had a bitter debut season marred with injuries. He’ll look to prove his quality in the upcoming campaign and help maintain a much sturdier defensive line.
If Varane doesn’t have to worry about going forward with the ball to get things started, he can put utmost focus on his defensive duties.
In doing so, he’d be more proactive in cutting down opponents’ chances and nullifying the threat of opposition strikers. De Jong can bring a sense of calmness to Varane & Co, helping them feel more secure next season.