What will de Jong bring to United’s midfield?

Manchester United are now close to signing Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona after weeks of negotiations. United are set to seal the deal with an offer around £56.2m. However, this fee could rise to £73m with add-ons. So let’s take a look at what de Jong could bring to the Ten Hag’s midfield.

Comfortable on the ball

One of De Jong’s most attractive attributes is his ability on the ball. He can receive the ball under pressure and then easily turn and progress the ball forward. Currently, at the club there are no midfielders, who are able to receive the ball from the back, when under pressure from an opposition player.

Evidently, Erik ten Hag believes the signing of Frenkie de Jong is crucial, as playing out from the back is a fundamental aspect of his system. Not only can De Jong receive the ball with his back to goal, but he is also naturally gifted at progressing the ball. The 25-year-old is a progressive passer and also a brilliant dribbler. The Red Devils lost Paul Pogba this summer and the Frenchman was the only midfielder, who could effortlessly dribble and carry the ball forward.

It is unclear if De Jong will play in an eight or six role However, it is likely that the Dutchman will be tasked with carrying the ball forward like Pogba was. The former Ajax player is known for both his attacking and defensive qualities, making him a versatile asset. De Jong has great defensive awareness, allowing him to break up attacks and intercept passes.

At the other end of the pitch, De Jong can utilise his quick feet, which allow him to beat his man and pick a pass. The Netherlands international would be an excellent addition to the midfield and it seems inevitable that Ten Hag will get his man.

De Jong set to reunite with van de Beek

Ten Hag has already said that Donny van de Beek will play an important role in the forthcoming season. Furthemore, with the arrival of De Jong, the Old Trafford faithful are likely to see the best of Donny van de Beek. The pair were part of Ten Hag’s successful Ajax team and have both been part of the national team setup.

Currently, it is unclear whether Ten Hag will set up his side in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. However both of these midfielders can adapt to either formation. During their time together at Ajax, de Jong and van de Beek had a great partnership in midfield. De Jong sat slightly deeper, while Van De Beek found himself further up the field in the final third.

At Ajax, they had Schone sitting behind them and he would do the majority of the defensive work. The Reds don’t have Schone or any real defensive midfielder and this is slightly concerning. It is unlikely that United move for a defensive midfielder this summer, with the Reds prioritising deals for Eriksen, Atony, Malacia and Martinez.

Consequently, Frenkie could have a deeper role, unless the United boss moulds Scott McTominay or Fred into a number six.

Does Frenkie de Jong improve United?

The imminent arrival of Frenkie de Jong has got pundits and fans talking for all the right reasons. The midfielder could have an immediate impact at Old Trafford, if he is given pre season to adapt to the side. He has everything that the current midfield is lacking and could cost just £56.2m.

This is remarkable considering Barcelona took him from Ajax for £10m more just three years ago. Moreover, the fee is more than reasonable considering the state of the current market. The Reds do need a defensive midfielder and De Jong is far from a natural number six.

However, if the Dutchman has the right players around him, United could have a very successful season. His partnership with Donny van de Beek could also be instrumental. United fans will hope this signing is completed sooner rather than later so that the midfielder has a full pre season with the rest of the first team.

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Author: Rajan Sangha

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