Manchester United’s De Jong deal stalls but club step up Martínez pursuit


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Manchester United’s pursuit of Frenkie de Jong has stalled after his agents told Barcelona the midfielder had no intention of leaving.

De Jong is a priority target for United, who will step up their interest in another player on Erik ten Hag’s list when they hold a meeting with Ajax on Wednesday to discuss the centre-back Lisandro Martínez.

United have been informed of developments relating to De Jong. His agents, Ali Dursun and Hasan Cetinkaya, made clear to Barcelona that the Netherlands international is not seeking a move and is not open to reducing his salary as the club try to improve their finances.

Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, said at the start of this month he would do everything to keep De Jong but that the 25-year-old would have to adjust his salary. De Jong is owed millions of Euros in deferred wages.

United and Barcelona have agreed a deal in principle for De Jong to move to Old Trafford for an initial €65m (£55m) plus €20m in add-ons, although the structure of the additional payments has not been decided.

De Jong’s priority has been to stay at Barcelona and to continue playing in the Champions League, for which United have not qualified. While De Jong’s situation has been unfolding, Barcelona have struck a deal with Leeds to buy the winger Raphinha for an initial €58m plus up to €9m in add-ons. Raphinha flew to Spain on Wednesday to sign a contract to 2027 and Barcelona also hope to confirm a new two-year deal with Ousmane Dembélé this week.

United hope their move for Martínez will prove more straightforward than that for De Jong. Their most recent proposal for the Argentina international was turned down but Ajax are prepared to sell at the right price. Martínez is pushing to leave and wants to join a Premier League club.

Lisandro Martínez gets his foot to the ball while contesting possession with Chile’s Alexis Sánchez during a World Cup qualifier with Argentina.
Lisandro Martínez gets his foot to the ball while contesting possession with Chile’s Alexis Sánchez during a World Cup qualifier with Argentina. Photograph: Javier Torres/EPA

Ten Hag’s only signing has been the left-back Tyrell Malacia from another Dutch club, Feyenoord, and the manager wants to strengthen in central defence. His most notable options in the position are Victor Lindelöf, Raphaël Varane, Eric Bailly and the captain, Harry Maguire. Martínez signed for Ajax in 2019 and has played there under Ten Hag for the past three seasons.

The United defender Axel Tuanzebe has left the club’s pre-season tour to deal with a “small personal issue”.


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