The American tycoon, who was handed the keys to Stamford Bridge thanks to a £4.25billion takeover in May, is aiming to make a statement in his first summer transfer window at the helm. Snatching De Jong from United’s clutches has emerged a potential power move, with reports in Spain claiming that Chelsea have joined the race to sign the in-demand Dutch midfielder.
While the Blues are also in talks with Barcelona over the sales of Spanish defenders Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicuteta, it’s expected that De Jong will be one of the topics discussed when the Chelsea chief sits down with Camp Nou officials at a restaurant on Thursday evening. Quizzed by a reporter from Cope as why he was in the city, Boehly smiled and coolly replied: “We’re here for a meal.”
The 25-year-old Netherlands international, who the Red Devils are still quietly confident over winning the race for, wants to stay in Catalunya. However, Barcelona’s perilous financial predicament means that the club would be open to sell him, should their demands be met – despite club president Joan Laporta claiming that De Jong wasn’t for sale yesterday.
“Frenkie is not for sale. He is a Barcelona player,” Laporta – also spotted walking into the same restaurant as Boehly alongside fellow Barcelona officials Jordi Cruyff and Mateu Alemany – declared in a press conference on Wednesday, unveiling new singing Frank Kessie, notably a midfielder. “There are offers but that’s not the case. We don’t want to sell.”
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While United chief executive Richard Arnold claims that money isn’t a problem in negotiations, Chelsea have a trump card on their Premier League rivals: Champions League football. De Jong wants to play in Europe’s premier competition, which new manager Erik ten Hag ‘s Red Devils will be without next season.
Boehly’s Blues, on the other hand, have their place in the group stages secured, as boss Thomas Tuchel looks to replenish his midfield options with the addition of a fresh face. It’s been no secret that the new head honcho at Stamford Bridge wants to make a splash in his first transfer window. Chelsea are close to signing Raheem Sterling after agreeing personal terms with the Manchester City star, and are even hoping to prise Cristiano Ronaldo away from Old Trafford.
Following the departures of chairman Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia – the woman in charge of the Blues’ transfer business for much of the last decade – Boehly is acting as temporary sporting director, hence the personal trip to Spain when usually a delegation would resolve the matter.
“We are honoured to become the new custodians of Chelsea Football Club,” he declared upon completing the mega-money takeover two months ago, helped by a consortium. “We’re all in – 100 per cent – every minute of every match. Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud.
“Along with our commitment to developing the youth squad and acquiring the best talent, our plan of action is to invest in the Club for the long-term and build on Chelsea’s remarkable history of success.”