Erik ten Hag is set to step up his pursuit of Frenkie de Jong at Manchester United – ESPN’s Insider Notebook has the latest. MORE: Neymar could be on the move.
Jump to: PSG soap opera continues amid Neymar talks | Barcelona pushes for mass exodus | Bale and Di Maria snubbed | Prem clubs love Carmo
Ten Hag steps up pursuit of De Jong
Manchester United are set to test Barcelona’s resolve against Frenkie de Jong despite doubts over whether they are the midfielder’s first choice if he leaves Camp Nou, sources have told ESPN.
United want a midfielder this summer and De Jong, who worked under Erik ten Hag at Ajax during the pair’s time at Ajax, is one of the names under consideration.
– Ogden: in the broken world of Man Utd
– Dawson: Ten Hag’s gigantic task
Despite playing a key role at Barcelona last season, there is a feeling at Old Trafford that the La Liga giants may have to offload the Dutch international to fund their summer transfer business. Sources have told ESPN that De Jong should be convinced to join United, especially after dropping out of the Champions League, but a move hasn’t been completely ruled out.
Intermediaries working on behalf of Barcelona have tried to find potential suitors for the 25-year-old and although Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have asked to be kept informed, United’s interest is the strongest. Sources have told ESPN that Manchester City are distancing themselves from De Jong, opting instead to focus on Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips as a replacement for Fernandinho, who will leave the club in the summer.
United have also expressed interest in Phillips, but sources have said he would be reluctant to move to Old Trafford given Leeds’ intense rivalry with United.
Barcelona are already looking for replacements for De Jong, whose transfer fee is said to be around £75million. United are unlikely to meet those terms and should seek to agree a lower fee, but it is believed Barcelona’s financial situation could leave room for compromise. — Rob Dawson
PSG soap opera continues as Neymar is made available
Paris Saint-Germain have made Neymar available for transfer this summer, sources have told ESPN, with the club looking for a new management following Kylian Mbappe’s surprise contract extension.
PSG’s position marks another U-turn at the club, following Mbappe’s decision to stay when he looked certain to leave on a free transfer. Neymar signed a new contract at the club last year and has three years left, but PSG are hoping to offload him this summer.
Mbappe’s new contract, which runs until 2025, marks a new era for the club, with sporting director Leonardo set to step down soon, to be replaced by Luis Campos – an ally of Mbappe, after their successful spell at Monaco together.
Campos was at Monaco when Mbappe burst onto the scene and won the Ligue 1 title in 2017, as well as the Champions League semi-finals. The 57-year-old has a reputation for unearthing top talent and securing big transfer fees for hidden gems, with Mbappe being one of many notable successes. Campos joined Monaco in 2013, and four years later the club won their first title in 17 years. He will be officially announced as PSG’s new manager in the coming days but is already working to shape the team, sources say, with a focus on young players.
– Inside story: Mbappe’s big change of heart
Neymar, 30, is in Qatar with some of PSG’s sponsors and said this week he wants to stay at PSG but the Ligue 1 champions want to generate transfer funds to shape their squad. The Brazil international joined PSG for a world-record €222m fee from Barcelona in 2017 but has played just 50 per cent of the club’s matches since joining, amid a string of recurring injuries.
Neymar’s hefty salary, which costs PSG around €35m a year, may prove a stumbling block should interested clubs come forward to make a bid, but Chelsea have long been interested in the move. ‘attacker. –Julien Laurens
Julien Laurens and Gab Marcotti discuss Neymar’s future as PSG want him gone.
Barcelona pushes for mass exodus
Barcelona will tell more than 10 players they are free to leave the club this summer as Xavi Hernandez plans to overhaul the squad after a trophyless season at Camp Nou, sources have told ESPN.
However, sources add that it won’t be easy to move many unwanted players due to their reluctance to leave and their high salaries.
Xavi has already confirmed conversations with Riqui Puig, Oscar Mingueza, Martin Braithwaite and Samuel Umtiti in which he informed them they weren’t part of his long-term plans. Clement Lenglet, Ferran Jutgla, loanees Luuk de Jong and Adama Traore and those returning from loans elsewhere, such as Francisco Trincao and Miralem Pjanic, are also likely to be asked to leave.
The future of Ousmane Dembele and Dani Alves, who are both out of contract next month, is also uncertain, while sources add that Barca’s financial situation could force them to listen to big offers for Memphis Depay and Frankie de Jong.
Despite Barca’s desire to ring in the changes, they are already facing obstacles. Both Braithwaite and Pjanic have spoken of their desire to fulfill the last two years of their contracts, while the high salaries earned by players like Lenglet make it difficult to find a suitor. –Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens
Bale and Di Maria snubbed by Atlético
Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria have both been offered to Atletico Madrid as potential free transfers this summer, sources have confirmed to ESPN, but the LaLiga club have turned down the chance to sign either players.
Bale, 32, will leave Real Madrid after nine years at the club when his contract expires in June, while Di Maria, 34, will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires.
Spanish radio station COPE first reported on Monday that Bale’s representatives had offered him to Atletico, saying the discussion took place during a meeting with the club’s sporting director Andrea Berta. Sources have told ESPN that Atletico appreciate the offer but believe the finances involved in such a deal would make it difficult to justify, given Bale’s age. If they were to strengthen their attack, they would prefer to focus their efforts on a player who could contribute to the team for a longer period.
Bale is preparing for Real Madrid’s Champions League final against Liverpool in Paris on Saturday after a season disrupted by injury. Sources close to the player have told ESPN that no decision will be made on his future until he has featured for Wales in their June fixtures, which include a Cup qualifying play-off final of the world against Scotland or Ukraine. Bale and his family have been happy living in Madrid despite his reduced role in the team in recent years, and his family has remained in the Spanish capital during his 2020-21 loan spell at Tottenham.
Atletico have also been offered Di Maria, who played his last game for PSG last weekend, starting and scoring in a 5-0 win over Metz at the Parc des Princes. He has played 295 games for the Ligue 1 club since signing from Manchester United in 2015, scoring 92 goals.
“I’m calm. There’s time, I have to think,” he told ESPN on Saturday. “It’s not just my decision, I will always think of my family, then me. I will decide what’s best for everyone.” — Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez
Carmo in demand
A number of Premier League clubs are considering a summer move for Braga centre-back David Carmo, sources have told ESPN.
The 22-year-old is highly rated in Portugal and was called up in Fernando Santos’ squad for their Nations League matches against Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic in June.
Sources have told ESPN that an offer of around €25million would guarantee a Braga departure, with a number of English clubs having already expressed interest.
Manchester United are among clubs looking for a left-footed centre-back this summer to bring more balance to their defense and have placed Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres on their option list. -Rob Dawson
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