Manchester United’s pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has turned into one of the summer transfer window’s biggest sagas.
Frenkie de Jong, 25, has been the No.1 priority of Erik ten Hag for the midfield, as the Red Devils have entered the 13th week in the hunt for the central midfielder. Manchester United reached an agreement with the Catalan giants over a transfer fee for the Netherlands international last month, but complications—including deferred wages to the player and an apparent reluctance to leave his dream club—have seen a deal stall.
While United are still pushing to complete the signing of Ten Hag’s major transfer target, time is running out with just days remaining until the new Premier League season begins. In case De Jong’s protracted transfer to United doesn’t happen in a week’s time, here are three potential alternatives for the Dutchman the club should look at.
Frenkie de Jong alternatives for Manchester United
Ruben Neves (Wolves)
Wolves’ Ruben Neves is a player Man United have held an interest in for a long time.
The Portugal international, 25, has been a consistent performer for Wolves ever since arriving from FC Porto in 2017. He has established himself as one of the Premier League’s top central midfielders in recent seasons, and his passing range, ball-winning skills and ability to score goals are exactly the profile United are in the hunt for.
Premier League proved and vocal leader, Ruben Neves would instantly improve Man United’s midfield options whilst giving Ten Hag’s side more balance. If the Red Devils fail in their pursuit of De Jong, Ten Hag could look at Neves to improve his midfield unit.
Ismael Bennacer (AC Milan)
Since joining AC Milan from Empoli in 2019, Ismael Bennacer has become a key member of the Rossoneri, and his performances have not gone unnoticed in Europe. He featured in 40 games last season, as AC Milan won their first Scudetto since 2011.
A workhorse in midfield with a fantastic interception and tackling skills, Bennacer, 24, does not play as the deepest midfielder for Stefano Pioli’s side but he has the intelligence, energy and spatial awareness to drop deep, pick up the ball and progress with it high up the pitch.
A good dribbler too, the Algerian international could solve United’s midfield conundrum and allow Ten Hag to have a massive upgrade option on the likes of Fred and Scott McTominay.
Renato Sanches (Lille)
Another possible De Jong alternative is Lille midfielder Renato Sanches, who has grown a lot as a player since his forgettable spells with Bayern Munich and Swansea City.
Technically gifted and able to operate in a number of roles, Sanches, 24, is press-resistant with his ability to drive on the ball, dribble past players and make passes in the final third. The Portuguese has the calmness to match his technical ability, allowing him to use his diminutive frame to escape from trouble and remain in possession.
Like Neves, a factor that could make Sanches the preferred option is that he has experience playing with current Man United stars Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo in the national team. If Ten Hag recognises the successful camaraderie between the Portuguese players, it may be worth tabling an offer for Sanches to Lille as the midfielder looks more than ready for his big move once again.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.