Arnold expects De Jong to headline Manchester United’s summer window

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It’s that part of the season again. No post season or pre season, or holiday hard work until Boxing Day and beyond. Neither do the cool days of spring when the title race heats up. Nope, it’s Manchester United season in the summer transfer market when the national football’s favorite soap opera headlines the silly season and plenty of players are linked, targeted, lost, found, sold, signed and er…unsigned.

The latter is already shaping the narrative of some of Richard Arnold’s great 2022 Who Will America Be? to show. This is the 52-year-old’s first window as chief executive of the club and to hear and read the hysteria from pundits and supporters, he has to acquire Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and the next Diego Maradona or his tenure will collapse and burn out sooner. of takeoff. .

Related: Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold meets disgruntled fans at a local pub

However, there is real pressure to have a successful window. Starting with Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, then a striker, possibly Ajax’s Antony, and perhaps a defender after Jurrien Timber turned down the chance to join Erik ten Hag in moving from Amsterdam to Manchester, the youngster’s decision The 21-year-old was based on his desire to ensure he kept his place in the Netherlands squad with a World Cup just around the corner.

Across town, Manchester City secured Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund and, a little further afield, Liverpool recruited Darwin Nunez from Benfica (not to mention Fabio Carvalho from Fulham and Calvin Ramsay from Aberdeen). Ten Hag also wanted Nunez and with Haaland being the emerging superstar in world football, United fans see the Premier League’s pre-eminent forces and their two fiercest rivals already going strong while their club draw a blank.

Further pushback came from another Ten Hag target on Christian Eriksen, with the Dane in favor of staying at Brentford or returning to Tottenham. The only transfer action that has taken place at United so far this summer has been a slew of departures: Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani have all left free of charge.

It’s still early days in a transfer window that doesn’t officially open until July 1, with the team meeting for the first time next month, when Ten Hag will speak to his players as a group for the first time. So, understandably, Arnold and his director of football, John Murtough, keep their cool.

Frenkie de Jong is Manchester United’s main transfer target and they are confident of signing the Dutch midfielder from Barcelona. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

His stance is that although De Jong is Ten Hag’s main target, there is no need to panic, because Barcelona are in a precarious financial position and therefore need to sell, and there seems to be no competition for them. the Dutch midfielder, and certainly not from the clubs. with the financial resources for Gazump United. Therefore, Arnold and Murtough will not rush in their search for the player and are preparing a second offer of around €70m plus add-ons for him, after Barcelona rejected an offer of €60m plus bonuses.

The ideal outcome is for De Jong’s transfer to be sealed before United fly to Thailand for their pre-season tour on July 8. Ten Hag wants the 25-year-old to be in his place for what would be his first game in charge, against Liverpool in Bangkok four days after United arrive in the Far East. If that cannot be achieved, the plan is to ensure De Jong is a United player before the opening game of the new Premier League season, against Brighton at Old Trafford on August 7, something Arnold and Murtough believe will be achieved. can achieve.

The mood emanating from United is bullish on De Jong’s arrival, and it is widely believed that it is a case of when, not if. But if de Jong is not on the plane to Bangkok, the specter of the ridiculous summer of 2013 will inevitably arise. This featured Ed Woodward, Arnold’s predecessor, leaving United’s tour of Australia to “tend to urgent transfer matters”.

Related: Manchester United is confident that Barcelona will lower the price of Frenkie de Jong

When Woodward flew back to Europe that Wednesday in July nine years ago, he and the club’s recently hired manager David Moyes had identified Cesc Fàbregas, then of Barcelona, ​​as the signing to kick-start the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, but the Spaniard never made it. In fact, the only player United signed that summer was Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, and even that was completed after the deadline and came close to failing.

This is the kind of doomsday scenario that Arnold, Murtough, and Ten Hag are desperate to avoid. A repeat in this case remains highly unlikely, given United’s strong hand in negotiations with a club that not only desperately need the funds from the player’s sale, but also need his £290,000-a-week salary away. of his books.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal and Arnold and Murtough need to make sure they don’t make the same mistake Woodward did in 2013. Back then, United ended up paying £4m more than they should have for Fellaini, who had a buyout. of 23.5 million pounds. clause that United could have activated if they had acted earlier. Moyes was well aware of the clause, as he was the Everton manager who had inserted it into the Belgian midfielder’s contract.

Arnold’s clandestinely filmed meeting with disgruntled fans at an inn near his Cheshire home at the weekend presented a candid admission of the mess that has been United’s recent history. Up front with a terse assessment: “We burn cash,” United’s most powerful executive indicated that he is attuned to what it takes to revive a club that is more fallen than a sleeping giant at the moment. But, as always, actions will tell. To you, Mr. Arnold.

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