Frenkie de Jong and his possible alternatives

Frenkie De Jong is one of the best if not the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. That is why United have been on a relentless pursuit for him. Here is a breakdown of why Ten Hag wants him so badly as well as other midfielders United can look at to reinforce their technical quality in the middle of the park.

Frenkie De Jong player profile

A versatile midfielder who oozes class. He can operate as a 6 or 8, although he excels in the latter in a double pivot as he has been shining when playing next to Busquets. His technical and tactical qualities can improve any midfield in the world.

Ten Hag will be looking to change United from a transitional side to a more possession-based side. To do this, midfielder like De Jong is the key. He can break down low blocks, can protect the ball under pressure and most importantly, can maintain and advance possession. United lack a technically adept 8 to progress through that first phase of play, which evidently is De Jong’s best quality. He dribbles past players with ease and grace before releasing a perfectly timed, perfectly weighted line breaking pass.

Frenkie de Jong is elite at keeping possession, being dispossessed only 0.8 times per game this season. He averages 61 passes per match in the league, with a completion rate of 91%. By contrast, Fred, who is United’s best option with Eriksen out, averages only 26 passes, completing 82% of those. He simply is a joy to watch: calm, composed, elegance personified and football IQ off the charts. Despite his quiet, kind-of-shy character, Xavi has described him as a leader in his table-topping Blaugrana.

Last summer, United and Barça had agreed upon an 85 million euros deal. However, Frenkie was more than reluctant to leave the Nou Camp. United can only hope he is tempted by the prospect of playing along the best CDM in the world in Casemiro and playing under Erik again should the United board have another go at him this summer.

Jude Bellingham

At only 19 years old, he is certainly one for the future and beyond. The young Dortmund midfielder, who occasionally captains the black and yellow, operates on the right side of a double pivot is a very technically gifted ball carrier. Exactly what United are lacking at the moment.

He is just as press resistant as De Jong which will help United get through that first phase of play. Off the ball, Bellingham has an exceptional work rate and a strong engine to keep the press going. He has all the qualities to slot into that double pivot with Casemiro. Although admittedly, De Jong may be the best fit having played under Ten Hag before. Bellingham averages 52 passes per game with a completion rate of 83% coupled with 4 goals and 4 assists in the league.

The young lad is hot property in Europe, with top, top teams all after his signature. He has most heavily been linked with Liverpool and Real Madrid. Although the latter toned town their interest a bit after signing Aurélien Tchouaméni. Liverpool have been having a torrid season and United just may be on top of Bellingham’s list if the Merseyside club doesn’t qualify for the Champions League. He is currently valued at more than 183 million euros and is the most valuable player in the world.

Marcel Sabitzer

The Austrian was a bit of a panic last-minute bring-in after it was confirmed Eriksen would be out for long. He is now a fan-favorite for the few games he’s played. Despite an injury sidelining him for a few games. He is predominantly a central midfielder but can operate in so many positions including the 10, 6, as a winger and as a second striker. Ten Hag has already tried him in the 6 and 8 impressing in both.

He is a proper workhorse and is always ready to do the dirty work for his teammates with great tackling and decent ball interceptions. He combines this with vision and intent as he more often than not always looks to release a teammate on the counter. Furthermore, he is very intelligent and is fantastic a layoffs and short link up passes. He also is a dead ball specialist with wicked deliveries, especially to the back post. As a bonus, he has a rocket of a right foot from distance.

United are yet to see the Sabitzer who was magnificent at RB Leipzig. But maybe with time, he will fit in better having recently scored his first for the club in that dramatic win against Fulham. Bayern Munich have an asking price of only 20 million euros which is great value of money if the Austrian can find his best form consistently.

Ruben Neves

The Wolves captain is known for his long range goals. But there is far more to him than the occasional 25+ yard screamer. He rarely takes the headlines, but he is an exceptional, exceptional talent who can seamlessly fit into any system.

In a United setup, he can operate in the left deep-lying playmaker position. From there, he can display his best attribute to the world – spraying balls left and right. Playing next to an elite CDM like Casemiro will take away some of his defensive load, and he will be free to roam the midfield with an even more versatile Bruno Fernandes. In his near 5 years in English football, Neves has excelled as a CDM, deep-lying playmaker as well as a box-to-box midfielder. His play style is simple yet magical. He averages 63 passes per game, completing 85% of those, and 5 goals to go with.

United will have to part with 40-45 million euros to acquire the service of the Portuguese ace. He is an excellent player for under 50 million, with exceptional passing and technical proficiency. On top of that, he has been a great leader for a struggling Wolves side, having permanently taken over the captain’s armband since Conor Coady was loaned out.


Ideally, De Jong remains tailor-cut for that number 8 role. Be that as it may, the Dutchman has been rather reluctant to leave Xavi’s project. If that remains the case in the summer, I’d rather United sign Bellingham. He is only 19, with immense potential, and already is making waves all over Europe. United will have that 8-role set for the next ten years at least. Now, as history has it, our board has always been a little tight on the purse strings and rarely splash cash unlike our noisy neighbors. Unless the Qatari takeover goes through, it is highly unlikely the board will meet Bellingham’s astronomically high price tag. That said, Ruben Neves becomes the more logical option, as both affordable and Premier League tested.

Author: Macharia Mariga

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