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“He’s the only one of his kind” – Rafael van der Vaart urges Frenkie de Jong to join Man Utd

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:28, 10 June 2022

Former Netherlands midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has advised Frenkie de Jong to join Manchester United, believing he is out of place at Barcelona.

When De Jong joined Barcelona from Ajax ahead of the 2019/20 season, hopes of the Dutchman being an immediate success at the Nou Camp were high. He had just been part of an Ajax side that made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League, one of the young stars under Erik ten Hag.

But things just haven’t worked out for De Jong in Spain. Three years later, De Jong has played 139 games for Barcelona and has had his fleeting moments of quality, but has never truly looked like part of the club.

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Last season De Jong formed part of Xavi’s midfield three, often alongside holding midfielder Sergio Busquets and either Gavi or Pedri. And whatever the combination, the Dutchman was often overshadowed by his teammates, especially the younger pairing of Pedri and Gavi.

As a result, De Jong, still only 25, has been linked with a move away from Barcelona this season with a view to kickstart his career as he looks to fulfil the potential he promised in that Ajax side. One of the teams linked to De Jong is Premier League side Man Utd, where former Ajax boss Ten Hag is currently planning his overhaul of the Red Devils’ squad.

De Jong could also leave Barcelona as the club still look to sort out their wage bill in order to sign new players and register their arrivals, planning a defensive shift across the summer.

And Van der Vaart, who spent two years in the Premier League, believes De Jong should link up with Ten Hag at Man Utd to truly shine.

“That is of course the most ideal,” Van der Vaart told Ziggo Sport of a potential De Jong move to Man Utd.

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“Then you have a trainer who knows exactly what you can and cannot do. And United still need a little quality. There are players who can do the same and maybe be better than you or have performed more.

“As long as those other players are there, he is out of place at Barcelona. At United he could play more like with the Dutch national team. Then he’s the only one of his kind.”

Man Utd have already lost four midfielders in the summer transfer window, with Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba all confirmed to leave the club at the end of their contracts. It means the Red Devils only have Scott McTominay, Fred, Donny van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes as their first-team central midfield options.

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