Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold’s comments on the club’s transfer strategy this summer have shot them in the foot over their pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
Arnold was secretly filmed at a meeting with United fans at a pub on Saturday in which he addressed a wide range of issues including the club’s transfer approach this summer and the ownership of the Glazer family at United. However, his comments could have an adverse impact on their attempts to sign the Dutch midfielder.
Former Ajax star De Jong is a top transfer priority for new United boss Erik ten Hag and there has been a phone call between the two already held in which the coach outlined the role the player would enjoy under him, as part of a charm offensive to land the player. Reports on Saturday outline how the midfielder has already cleared out his locker at Barca with a move appearing to edge closer.
De Jong is said to have been assured by the new United boss over the call that the entire team would revolve around him and that he would be 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 which he enjoyed so much at Ajax.
However the future of De Jong remains delicate with United and Barca locked in negotiations over the structure of a deal which would take the central midfielder to Old Trafford. Tasked with concluding the transfer for United is John Murtough, who is unlikely to be too happy with Arnold’s comments – even if they were not intended to be shared in the public.
Arnold was filmed saying when speaking of De Jong: “Money is not a consideration on who we want. The manager wants him (De Jong) and they have actually done the work. He’s a great player,” he added.
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“Is it £100 million or £200million? I don’t know. Get who you f***ing want. Do you want me buying the players? Does that not ring a bell?”
Those comments show that money is no objective for United in their attempts to get a deal for De Jong over the line, but that is unlikely to help Murtough in the negotiation process. Barcelona will be alerted on this stance and it will understandably weaken United’s negotiating position when the Catalan giants ask for a higher transfer fee.