Frenkie de Jong looks set to be one of the most in-demand players in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Yes, January has only just entered our rearview mirrors, with most clubs in Europe now solely focused on having the best second half to their season possible. But already, there is one eye on the next window and planning for the 2024/25 campaign.
Reports have emerged from Spain that De Jong is looking to end his spell with Barcelona, unhappy that the club’s financial position has hindered their ability to fight for the Champions League title, which is why he joined in the first place.
And despite De Jong never quite hitting the heights expected of him as a Barcelona player, there is no doubt that a midfielder of his ability would be a highly sought-after acquisition.
Of course, speculation regarding De Jong’s future is nothing new and plenty of clubs have been linked with the Netherlands international in recent months. With that in mind, we’ve identified the dream, realistic and wildcard options for De Jong’s next club.
Dream: Bayern Munich
If lifting the Champions League title is among De Jong’s top priorities when searching for a new club, that will narrow his options considerably, with only a handful able to realistically challenge on that front.
One such powerhouse is Bayern Munich, who have already made a very recent statement of their intent with the signing of England record goalscorer Harry Kane last summer.
However, according to reports, Bayern could lose midfield linchpin Joshua Kimmich in the near future. Manchester City are understood to be seriously weighing up a move for the Germany international, with Pep Guardiola obviously already very familiar from their time together at Bayern. Ironically, De Jong’s current club are also linked with Kimmich.
Perhaps Barcelona could negotiate a swap deal between Kimmich and De Jong to reduce the financial burden of the deal? Or maybe he just goes to Manchester City?
Either way, should Kimmich depart Bavaria, he’ll leave a very large hole in Thomas Tuchel’s midfield that De Jong could be primed to fill…
The thought of De Jong serving up to Leon Goretzka and Jamal Musiala is quite terrifying and one can’t help but imagine that trio, alongside Kane’s goals, firing Bayern to continental glory.
Realistic: Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain
The bookmakers have Manchester United down as current favourites to sign De Jong and it does make a good amount of sense.
Yes, De Jong himself knocked the Red Devils back just a couple of years ago due to them not being in the Champions League. However, United have dined at Europe’s top table in the time since, while there’s also the small matter of them hiring the man who got the best out of De Jong as their manager: Erik ten Hag. If anyone knows how to mould the 26-year-old back into the ball-playing wizard he was at Ajax, it’s the man who helped him become said magician in the first place.
Now, United will very much be invested in the development of Kobbie Mainoo, who has turned heads around England in limited minutes this season. Meanwhile, they’re not short of creativity in Bruno Fernandes. But alongside those two, there’s currently a revolving cast of players either clearly past their best, underwhelming or long seen as a plaster. Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Sofyan Amrabat and Scott McTominay immediately spring to mind.
De Jong’s forward-thinking and progressive nature on the ball — not to mention his pinpoint accuracy — nicely complement Mainoo’s defensive qualities. And together, they could provide the perfect platform behind Fernandes, who can continue to get among the goals and assists.
Of course, Man Utd could face very real competition from PSG for De Jong’s signature. The French giants are also looked upon fondly by bookmakers and they’re likely to be on the lookout for the perfect experienced head to partner wonderkid Warren Zaire-Emery in their midfield.
However, there is the small matter of Barcelona sporting director Deco recently name-dropping De Jong as a player he wouldn’t sell to finance a move for PSG’s Kylian Mbappe.
“We’ll see. It would be an error to sell Frenkie De Jong or Ronald Araujo to get Kylian Mbappé. It would make the team worse,” he said.
Arsenal are so close to becoming one of the dominant forces in English football once again, pushing Manchester City in the title race last season and once again getting themselves in the mix this time around. One or two more additions in the right areas could see them genuinely placed alongside the likes of City and Liverpool on a regular basis.
In fact, there’s no doubt another elite midfielder would set the Gunners on that course.
Declan Rice has worked wonders for Mikel Arteta since arriving from West Ham in the summer and there’s nothing to prove when it comes to Martin Odegaard, who is quite simply one of the best creative midfielders on the planet right now.
But next to those two, Arsenal still need a long-term option. Jorginho very much feels like a stop-gap — albeit a very capable one — and isn’t getting any younger, while Thomas Partey has suffered from various injury problems in recent years.
De Jong could be the passing machine that completes the puzzle for Arteta, whose ethos and managerial style feels like it would meld perfectly with the Dutchman’s game.
It’s very difficult to think of a better midfield trio than De Jong, Rice and Odegaard.