Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United? Definitely an option, but why would he leave?

1. Huh, Frenkie on the Barcelona transfer list? Why?

In any case, it is not due to his performance on the field. Frenkie has made 45 appearances for Barcelona this season, scoring four goals and providing five assists in all competitions. He is a basic player, both under coach Xavi and his predecessor Ronald Koeman, who was fired in October.

The fact is that De Jong often had a base place under Koeman. Xavi also wants to change Frenkie early or let him fill in from the couch. The Spanish coach recently faced a critical look from the player himself and questions from the press.

“Obviously this change frustrated him, but I have to think about the importance of the team,” Xavi said at the time. And later, after a conclave with De Jong: “We had a good conversation. I told him that he played excellent matches, but still needs to become more consistent.”

2. Okay, but that’s not exactly a reason to want to sell it this summer, is it?

No, not at first glance. But let’s call it a writing on the wall. Or a harbinger. There is one thing that is very certain: Barcelona needs money. Lots of money. At the end of 2021 it was announced that the club was struggling with a debt of 1.3 billion euros.

On Tuesday, the Spanish league La Liga announced that it had suffered a loss of 892 million euros in the 2020-2021 season, which was hit by the corona pandemic. Barcelona appears to be responsible for more than half of that loss (53 percent), according to the annual figures.

Barça was never a sales club because of its status and position in world football, but will have to learn that trick quickly. If the Catalans want to go back to the black numbers, players have to be sold. And then of course we look at guys with a good residual value.

3. Good, so Frenkie is interesting to sell, because he is still making money. But there are still more, right?

Well, that’s very disappointing. To be honest, the crown jewels are no longer up for grabs at Barcelona.

Dani Alves (39), Gerard Piqué (35), Sergio Busquets (33), Jordi Alba (33), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (32), Martin Braithwaite (30) and Sergi Roberto (30) are too old to sell a good amount, either too attached to the club so they can’t or don’t want to leave, or are transfer-free at the end of the season, so that Barcelona no longer receives anything for them anyway.

The latter also applies to Ousmane Dembele. The French attacker is an interesting name for many clubs, given his age (24 years) and position (right attacker). There is only one problem: Dembélé has long refused to renew his expiring contract. If that does not change soon, he will walk out of the Camp Nou for zero euros next summer.

Then you have to check that it was purchased in 2017 for 140 million euros. With such depreciations, you as a club also need a huge income stream, but that has not been there for years in Catalonia.

Barcelona is trying to avoid capital destruction by signing players for longer, with staggering lump sums in the new contracts. For example, Ronald Araújo, Pedri and Ansu Fati can now be collected in Catalonia for the mere amount of 1 billion euros (!).

Of course no sane club will pay that. Those clauses are therefore not there at all to generate money, but rather to deter interested parties. Barça also want to maintain quality and not put everything on sale.

4. That’s nice and smart then! They need money, but make the most interesting players so expensive that no one can get them?

That’s what it comes down to, yes. That is why Barcelona is looking at the footballers who do not have such a high transfer fee in their commitments, but who still appear on the lists of other, wealthy clubs.

If you cross out all the above names, only Frenkie de Jong (25), Memphis (28) and goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen (30) remain. This trio has proven qualities, a good age and an excellent residual value. Barça are not even forced to enter the market with them, clubs will come to them naturally.

5. Does Frenkie have a problem if he decides to stay? Also with a view to the coming World Cup?

Maybe. Mind you: Barcelona and Xavi are not dissatisfied with him at all. The trainer says that often enough. And he is – until now – also just playing.

The midfielder could therefore take a chance and stay in the Camp Nou. But you never know how the club will react if they risk missing out on tens of much-needed millions in transfer money due to a footballer’s steadfastness.

And Frenkie has another problem in that regard: he is not completely indispensable at Barça. The great Spanish talents Pedri (19), Gavi (17) and Nico González (20) are also midfielders. They want to make more minutes in the coming years, so that a new batch of Barcelona brilliants is created. The new Xavi’s and Andrès Iniesta’s, if you will. They have an edge over the foreign players in Catalonia anyway.

6. But why suddenly the name of Manchester United falls?

That link was quickly made: by the arrival of trainer Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman became national champion in the Netherlands yesterday, just like in 2019, when Frenkie de Jong had a large share in the successes of Ajax. There are even experts and analysts who claim that the midfielder never again reached that high level after that year. For that reason alone, perhaps a reunion would be good for both men.

A stumbling block is that Frenkie wants to play in the Champions League. The English ranking does not lie: Manchester United are currently sixth in the Premier League and the club could even finish seventh. In that case, the Red Devils do not play on the billion-dollar ball, but in the Europa League or, even one level lower, the Conference League. The question is whether De Jong is interested in that.

That is why it is in the news today that there has only been ‘contact’ between Ten Hag’s new employer and the De Jong camp. There are, understandably, doubts and question marks on the part of Frenkie, who may not want to leave beautiful Barcelona at all.

English media also report that Manchester City are interested. At an earlier stage, the name of Bayern Munich was already mentioned. A Dutch enclave could easily arise there, with Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch as (former) Ajax players.

When the season is over, the cards have been shuffled and it has become clear what the chances of playing minutes in Spain will be, Frenkie can still make the decision. The fact that an old acquaintance of his is in an important position at Manchester United will certainly not be a disadvantage for him.