Rio Ferdinand has explained why he thinks Frenkie de Jong would be an excellent signing for Manchester United and a great way to kick-off the Erik ten Hag revolution at Old Trafford.
The 52-year-old Dutchman has been chosen to lead United into their new era, taking charge on a three-year deal. However, Ten Hag has his work cut out with the Red Devils badly under-performing this season. Furthermore, they are a long way behind rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
Initially, Ten Hag will look to close that gap, but ultimately overhaul their two closest rivals.
And to begin with, he is planning wholesale changes of his squad with up to 12 men reportedly set to depart.
The new boss will need to strengthen his side throughout, with new additions in defence and attack.
But it is in midfield where Ten Hag will perhaps need to make the most changes. Indeed, United look especially light in the area with Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard all set to join Nemanja Matic in leaving.
And signing a world-class replacement for Pogba will be top of that order.
As a result, United are being strongly linked with a move for Barcelona star De Jong. He is reportedly one of nine men Barcelona are looking to cash in on this summer, as part of Xavi’s plans to rebuild his squad.
Ferdinand lists midfielder’s qualities
And while he is expected to cost a huge fee, Ferdinand has explained why the money is worth paying.
“I’ve always thought he was a top player,” Ferdinand told his FIVE YouTube channel. “They’re saying Frenkie de Jong could be the first player to come in under Erik ten Hag and I would be saying: ‘Yes, great signing.’
“He’s not huge in terms of frame but he is quick with the ball and a really good dribbler. He can get out of tight situations, makes good decisions, good passer, his balance and dribbling ability are really good.
“[United] are a team who are looking for players who can control the ball and control the game. They need to get the team functioning in terms of balance and possession. I think he would be a good addition.”
United right to pursue De Jong
Manchester United clearly need more quality in the centre of the park. This season, their defence has struggled badly, letting in a 40-year high of 56 goals. And part of the reason for that is the lack of control United have had in a number of games.
With the partnership of Scott McTominay and Fred failing to deliver the goods against the very best opposition, United would fix that with the addition of De Jong.
The midfielder has 138 appearances for Barca since joining from Ajax. In that time he has 13 goal and 17 assists to his name, operating mainly as a box-to-box midfielder.
And while he might not be as prolific as some midfielders, the control, balance and passing range he would surely bring makes his a worthwhile signing.
Similar to what the excellent Thiago brings to Liverpool, De Jong would provide that excellence and know-how in midfield.
And with Barca’s future well sorted with Gavi and Pedri on their books, the sale of De Jong looks a likely sacrifice for Barcelona.
Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, now looks certain to stay after delivering a positive update on the future under Ten Hag.