According to 90min, the Red Devils are still in contact with the player’s representatives and are believed to still be ‘hopeful’ that a deal can be struck, even amid suggestion that the move is now dead in the water.
The report reveals that despite the £70m addition of Real Madrid icon Casemiro, the Dutchman remains the ‘number one objective’ for manager Erik ten Hag this summer, with United having previously agreed an €85m (£72m) fee with the Catalan giants back in July.
As per the report, the move has subsequently been held up by the issue regarding deferred wages at the Camp Nou, with the La Liga outfit seemingly demanding that the 25-year-old reduce his salary or be sold.
The piece adds that the Premier League side ‘firmly believe’ that the 44-cap maestro will make the move to England once those issues over earnings are sorted, despite ongoing rumours that the playmaker is reluctant to join the club.
Despite concrete rumours regarding De Jong having first emerged as far back as early May, the former Ajax man appears no closer to making the move at present, with it having been yet another long, drawn-out transfer saga involving United.
Should this latest report be believed, however, all hope is not yet lost, with technical director John Murtough potentially able to pull off a late transfer masterclass if he can get the 5 foot 11 ace through the door before the window slams shut.
Although there is obvious frustration on all sides at the protracted nature of the deal, any ill will would seemingly quickly evaporate if the switch could be completed between now and 1 September, such is the quality of the individual.
The “incredible” talent – as described by national team coach Louis Van Gaal – is simply a master with the ball at his feet, possessing an innate ability to drive forward from deep as well as initiate attacks with an incisive forward pass.
That is evidenced by the fact that he ranks in the top 7% for progressive carries and the top 6% for progressive passes received among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, with it unsurprising why Ten Hag is so desperate to secure a reunion with his former asset.
Despite the growing frustration over the lack of movement in the deal, the 51-year-old has repeatedly stressed his desire to sign the “right” players rather than those who are simply available on the market, with that no doubt a commendable approach to avoid a repeat of the scattergun dealings of the recent past.
It has become something of a gruelling and potentially “humiliating” situation for the club – in the words of pundit Gabby Agbonlahor – regarding De Jong, yet what a coup it would be if Murtough could pull off a shock swoop late in the day and get the deal over the line.