Gary Neville says that while failing to sign Frenkie de Jong would be ‘embarrassing’ for Manchester United, it would be absolutely ‘horrific’ if he ended up moving to Chelsea.
De Jong has been United’s top transfer target all summer, with Erik ten Hag desperate to sign his former Ajax protégé from Barcelona.
It looked at one stage as if the deal had been done after the two clubs agreed on a fee but the midfielder’s reluctance to leave the Nou Camp, plus complications with the La Liga giant’s finances mean the move is looking increasingly more unlikely.
However, recent reports indicate that De Jong could well be on his way to England after all – just not to Old Trafford, with Chelsea said to have agreed a fee of £67.5million for the player on Wednesday.
If this turns out be true and the 25-year-old does indeed end up at Stamford Bridge it may be too much bad news for United fans to handle, as former club captain Neville explained.
‘If they [United] don’t get him [De Jong], it’s embarrassing but if he goes to Chelsea, it’s horrific,’ he told Football Daily.
‘If he doesn’t want to come the deal would have been switched off a few weeks ago. Because of the relationship the player has with the manager, there must be some communication between them that’s saying, “wait for me I’m coming”.
‘There are three outcomes. One, he comes and Man United look smart and patient.
‘The second is that he stays at Barca and there’s a bit of embarrassment because they’ve put all their eggs in one basket, and they haven’t got anyone else in. They’ve got a void in the squad, they’re starting the season with Fred and McTominay, and it makes them look like they can’t get a deal over the line.
‘The third one does not even contemplate thinking about – he goes to a rival club in the Premier League against the manager who he’d worked under for the previous few years.’
Neville made his comments prior to Ten Hag losing his first game in charge of United 2-1 at home to Brighton in their Premier League opener, and since then it appears as though the Red Devils have now found an alternative to De Jong.
Juventus’s Adrien Rabiot looks set to sign for £15m but there are many questions surrounding the 27-year-old’s off-pitch baggage and suitability top play in Ten Hag’s system.