After Erik ten Hag accepted the Manchester United job, the Dutchman only wanted one player – Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
Ten Hag managed De Jong at Ajax and has been keen on reuniting with midfielder at Manchester United.
With Ten Hag keen on introducting a possession-based style of play at Manchester United, he needs players like De Jong who are comfortable in possession.
Manchester United have struggled against high-pressing teams in recent seasons and having a player like De Jong who can dribble out of pressure with ease is very important.
The video below of De Jong against Wales in the UEFA Nations League shows De Jong at his best when teams put pressure on him and it perfectly sums up why Ten Hag wants the midfielder.
“That was the quality of Frenkie de Jong,” said Louis van Gaal, the former Manchester United manager who is now Holland manager. “That is why he is worth €112 million.”
According to CIES Football Observatory, a Swiss research group, De Jong is the seventh most valuable player in world football and is worth €112million.
Manchester United have reportedly agreed a €80million guaranteed fee with Barcelona for De Jong, which means the Red Devils are signing the Dutch midfielder below his worth.
At Ajax, De Jong established himself as one of the most exciting players in Europe when he operated in a deeper role, taking the ball in his own half and progressing it forward with his accurate passing and adventurous dribbling.
He hasn’t been able to do that at Barcelona due to Sergio Busquets being the deepest midfielder at Barcelona.
However, Manchester United boss Ten Hag expects to use Ten Hag as the deepest midfielder at Manchester United.
De Jong is a superb dribbler with the ball at his feet and is one of the best dribbling midfielders in Europe
De Jong’s dribbling ability makes him a powerful asset against teams who are trying to press high in the opposition half. De Jong sees them coming, and he then has the skill and speed to turn away from them.
Since joining Barcelona in 2019, only three players in Europe’s top five leagues have been more effective when dribbling with the ball.
De Jong has completed almost 80 per cent of his dribbles in that time. He has been a better midfield dribbler than Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic and Liverpool’s Thiago.
Only Zaydou Youssouf, Marco Verratti and Thomas Partey have been better midfield dribblers than De Jong since 2019.
“You can hardly put him under pressure,” said Ten Hag of De Jong during his time as Ajax manager. “That is such a great gift.”
He might be joining Manchester United at a huge cost but we can all agree that De Jong is such a thrilling prospect for United.