De Jong, 25, is a top transfer priority for Erik ten Hag and the pair held a phone call during which the new United manager outlined the role the player would enjoy under him as part of a charm offensive. Reports this weekend outlined how the midfielder has already cleared out his locker at Barca with a move appearing to edge closer.
The Dutchman is said to have received assurances that the entire team would revolve around him as the major reference point in midfield. He would be the ‘conductor of the orchestra’ and would be an undisputed starter under Ten Hag – a similar role to the one he enjoyed so much at Ajax.
However, United’s attempts to sign De Jong are holding up other deals that the club are looking to pursue this summer, according to the Daily Telegraph. Ajax forward Antony is another leading target for Ten Hag, who is keen to reunite with the 22-year-old – Ajax’s star attacker last season.
United are in pole position to land the Brazilian given his strong relationship with the Red Devils boss at the Amsterdam Arena, while the player’s representatives have travelled to Europe in order to discuss a possible transfer this summer. Brazilian journalist Jorge Nicola recently released a video, as cited by Sport Witness, outlining how Ten Hag is leading another charm offensive for the player.
Antony played 33 games last season for the Dutch giants, scoring 12 goals and providing 10 assists before missing the final segment of the campaign through injury. He was an instrumental player for Ten Hag’s side and the boss believes he fits the profile of what is missing in the squad he has inherited at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere, Ten Hag has ‘made it clear’ that one of his other priority targets in this summer window is Christian Eriksen. The former Ajax playmaker is said to be at the top of his wish list this summer, as first reported by the Sunday Mirror, and is fundamental to his project at Old Trafford. The new United coach has explained to the club’s board that Eriksen and De Jong are crucial to his style of play and has instructed them to secure their services.
Danish playmaker Eriksen is available on a free transfer and United are believed to have tabled an offer. However, the former Tottenham ace also has proposals from Brentford – where he shone throughout the second half of last season after recovering from the cardiac arrest which he suffered at last summer’s European Championship – and ex-club Spurs.
Ten Hag has also been linked to Lisandro Martinez, with the Argentine international identified as a potential target for United after they missed out on a deal to sign his Ajax teammate Jurrien Timber. The Red Devils will listen to offers for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly this summer.