Manchester United have suffered a fresh setback in their attempt to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona in January, according to reports.
The Premier League side spent almost three months chasing a deal for the Netherlands international during the summer transfer window and are still hoping to bring him to Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens.
De Jong was Erik ten Hag’s top transfer target in the summer with the Dutch boss having managed the midfielder at previous club Ajax.
Ten Hag saw him as a crucial player to his Old Trafford rebuild but despite United officials making several trips to Spain – a deal for the 25-year-old fell through – with the situation complicated by Barcelona’s financial restructuring.
De Jong, who was also linked to Chelsea, was recently out in Qatar for the World Cup and snubbed a question about his failed move to United.
And now, according to Spanish outlet Sport, Barcelona are no longer willing to sell De Jong because they do not see him as a dispensable player anymore.
That’s due to the fact that he has impressed in Barcelona’s midfield after boss Xaxi decided to hand De Jong more playing time in order to provide a rest for veteran Sergio Busquets.
Former Netherlands and Liverpool star Ryan Babel, meanwhile, has urged his countryman to avoid a move to United in January.
‘For Frenkie I would not recommend United in all honesty,’ Babel told MyBettingSites.
‘At least not today. He needs a team that wants to play football, proper football on the ground.
‘Yes, Man United has a coach that eventually if he has the right players can do that.
‘They have so far have shown signs that Erik ten Hag knows what to do, but by far it is not the level as what he has done in Ajax.
‘So for Frankie personally, if you go from Barcelona to United, I think that is a step down.’