Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi has previously waxed lyrical about Manchester United transfer target Frenkie de Jong, being quoted as describing him as a “very intelligent player.”
Watch Lionel Messi on Frenkie de Jong to Man Untied move
As reported by the Manchester Evening News , United are understood to be weighing up a £75million bid for the Barcelona midfielder ahead of this summer’s transfer window. Incoming manager Erik ten Hag is keen to put his own stamp of authority on his squad and De Jong is understood to be amongst his targets.
The duo worked together at Ajax before De Jong joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019. He played a key role in Ajax’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018/19 and was instrumental in the success the Dutch giants initially enjoyed after Ten Hag took charge in December 2017.
Therefore, it is easy to understand why Ten Hag would like to be reunited with the 25-year-old at Old Trafford. United are set to prioritise strengthening their midfield options this summer and De Jong is amongst their targets, despite him currently being a key part of Xavi’s plans at Barcelona.
However, United are desperate to put themselves back on the road to success, meaning a player of De Jong’s talents could be just what they are looking for. The central-midfielder is considered as one of the best midfield operators in European football and has no shortage of admirers, including Argentina international Messi.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner spent two seasons playing with De Jong at Barcelona ahead of joining PSG last year and made his feelings about the Dutchman known during private conversations with former Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman and De Jong himself. The former Southampton boss, who left the Spanish giants back in October last year, revealed that Messi spoke very highly of the United target and that he enjoyed playing alongside him.
Koeman, speaking last year, told De Telegraaf: “When I arrived I told Frenkie: ‘This is your second season, you have to make a step higher now, you need to do more than just play along’. This sounds cruel, but he got the message.
“I told him to take more responsibility. To arrive in the opponent’s box more.
“During these conversations I also involved Messi. Messi told Frenkie that he is a fantastic player. He becomes happy around a player like Frenkie, because he wants to have pure football players around him.
“When we talk with the three of us, Messi shares his opinion towards Frenkie. He always tries to activate him, as Messi believes that Frenkie can reach a much higher level. He finds him a very intelligent player.”
De Jong, who has made 138 appearances for Barcelona, has continued to go from strength-to-strength at Barcelona since Koeman departed, becoming a key part of Xavi’s plans. In total, he has made 45 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring four goals and grabbing five assists.
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