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The Reason Why Manchester United MUST Sign Another Midfielder Alongside Frenkie De Jong

Cain Smith

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The Reason Why Manchester United MUST Sign Another Midfielder Alongside Frenkie De Jong

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Manchester United need major reinforcements in the middle of the park this summer, and while the potential addition of Frenkie de Jong would add some much needed quality to a deflated United midfield, Erik ten Hag must be allowed to add a defensive midfielder alongside his former Ajax star.

The most recent reports from talkSPORT state that the Red Devils have 'accelerated' talks to sign De Jong, and it has been suggested that talks over a potential move for the 22-year-old Benfica striker, Darwin Nunez, have been put on the backburner while United attempt to get a deal for the Barcelona midfielder over the line.

The situation is a complicated one, with the midfielder's preference quite clearly being to stay at the Camp Nou.

After all, the Dutchman is at his dream club and has yet to make his mark in Spain after his move from Ajax almost three years ago for just over £75 million.

Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona in a Europa League fixture last season | Credit: Alamy
Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona in a Europa League fixture last season | Credit: Alamy

But the economic situation that the Spanish giants find themselves in puts a potential departure for the 25-year-old midfielder on the cards, and the lure that Erik ten Hag could possess for the player who thrived under him in the Netherlands is undeniable.

The last week has seen Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard all leave United. Nemanja Matic already announced his Old Trafford exit before the season's close.

It is obvious that United need depth and quality in the engine room of the team, and Frenkie de Jong would bring tons of quality. While his time at Blaugrana has not been what everyone thought it would when he joined, there is no doubt that De Jong is a talented player who can play the style of football that the new United manager will want to implement.

However, he does not solve the biggest problem that has haunted the Red Devils for many years.

The lack of a pure and true defensive midfielder has been apparent at Old Trafford for too long. Matic is the only one that the club have yielded since Jose Mourinho was in charge, and his best years were behind him when he left Chelsea for United in 2017.

Pogba -- who has just left on a free transfer for the second time in his United career -- is one talented midfielder who the supporters at Old Trafford rarely got to see the best of due to the defensive midfield problem at the club. De Jong could be another if the issue is not addressed in this window.

But, that situation seems much less likely to happen under the stewardship of Erik ten Hag, who knows the qualities of De Jong inside out.

"His quality is that he ensures that the ball gets into the final third. He is an adventurer, always on the move. Often with the ball, sometimes without the ball." Ten Hag told Voetbal International in 2019.

"Can you put him at six as the only link? He leaves the middle of the pitch too often for that. And if you don’t give him the freedom to go forward, you won’t get the best out of his game."

Although the Dutchman is often deep lying, that does not mean that he is the solution to the problem at the base of United's midfield, and his former manager knows that.

Frenkie de Jong with Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag when the pair were together at Ajax in 2019 | Credit: Alamy
Frenkie de Jong with Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag when the pair were together at Ajax in 2019 | Credit: Alamy

He is a progressor and a creator, who should not be limited by a role where his defensive responsibilities outweigh his creative ones.

This means that United will need to dip back into the market for another midfielder, and that player will need to be someone that United have not targeted for a while.

Multiple reports have suggested that this is the plan at United, with a striker and centre-back also on the agenda alongside two midfield players. The large cut in wages from the departing players will make this an easier job than before, but the correct profiles still need to be found.

Donny van de Beek will return to the club, but like his former teammate at Ajax, he is not a defensive minded midfielder and should not be attempted to be moulded into one.

The top clubs in Europe have top quality in their teams, but they also have one extremely important thing: balance.

That is what has been missing at United for too long, but under Erik ten Hag, the club can finally find the solution to their problem in the middle of the park.

Topics: Frenkie De Jong, Erik Ten Hag, Manchester United

Cain Smith
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