Erik ten Hag will step up his pursuit of Frenkie de Jong at Manchester United – ESPN’s insider’s notebook has the latest information. PLUS: Neymar could be on the way.
Switch to: PSG soap opera continues amid Neymar talks | Barcelona urge mass exodus | Bale, Di Maria snubs | Prem clubs are keen on Carmo
Ten Hag steps up the pursuit of De Jong
Manchester United are set to test Barcelona’s resolve over Frenkie de Jong, although there are doubts as to whether they are the midfielder’s first choice if he leaves the Camp Nou, sources have told ESPN.
United want a midfielder this summer and De Jong, who worked under Erik ten Hag at Ajax during the couple’s time at Ajax, is one of the names being considered.
– Ogden: Inside the broken world of Man Utd
– Dawson: Ten Hag’s mammoth task
Despite playing a key role at Barcelona last season, there is a feeling at Old Trafford that the LaLiga giants may need to sack the Dutch international to fund their summer transfer deal. Sources told ESPN that De Jong would need to be convinced to join United, especially after they were eliminated from the Champions League, but a move hasn’t been completely ruled out.
Agents working on behalf of Barcelona have been trying to find potential suitors for the 25-year-old and although Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have asked to be kept in the loop, United’s interest is strongest. Sources told ESPN that Manchester City are distancing themselves from De Jong and instead focusing on Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips as a replacement for Fernandinho, who will leave the club this summer.
United have also expressed an interest in Phillips but sources said he would be reluctant to move to Old Trafford given Leeds’ intense rivalry with United.
Barcelona are already looking for a replacement for De Jong, whose fee is said to be around £75m. United are unlikely to meet those conditions and would have to try to agree a lower fee, but there’s a belief Barcelona’s financial situation could leave room for compromise. — Rob Dawson
PSG soap opera continues while Neymar is made available
Paris Saint-Germain made Neymar available for a transfer this summer, sources tell ESPN, with the club looking for a new direction following Kylian Mbappé’s surprise contract extension.
PSG’s stance marks another U-turn at the club following Mbappe’s decision to stay when he looked certain to leave on a free transfer. Neymar signed a new three-year contract with the club last year but PSG hope to sack him this summer.
Mbappe’s new contract, which runs until 2025, marks a new era for the club. Sporting director Leonardo is expected to leave his position soon and be replaced by Luis Campos – an ally of Mbappe who found success following their successful spell together at Monaco.
Campos was in Monaco when Mbappe emerged and won the Ligue 1 title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2017. The 57-year-old has a reputation for spotting top talent and securing high transfer fees for hidden gems, with Mbappe being one of many notable achievements. Campos joined Monaco in 2013 and four years later the club had won their first title in 17 years. He will be officially announced as PSG’s new director in the coming days but sources say he is already in the process of shaping the squad with a focus on younger players.
– Inside story: Mbappe’s big change of heart
Neymar, 30, is in Qatar with some PSG sponsors and said this week that he wants to stay at PSG but wants the Ligue 1 champions to generate transfer funds to shape his squad. The Brazil international joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a world record €222m but has only played in 50% of the club’s games since joining due to a series of injuries.
Neymar’s hefty salary – which costs PSG around €35m a year – could prove to be a stumbling block should interested clubs get in touch to make an offer, but Chelsea have long had interest in the striker. – Julien Laurens
Julien Laurens and Gab Marcotti discuss Neymar’s future amid reports PSG want him gone.
Barcelona pushes for mass exodus
Barcelona will announce more than 10 players they can leave the club this summer as Xavi Hernandez plans to overhaul the squad after a trophy-less season at the Camp Nou, sources told ESPN.
However, sources add that due to their reticence and high salaries, it won’t be easy to transfer many of the unwanted players.
Xavi has already confirmed talks with Riqui Puig, Oscar Mingueza, Martin Braithwaite and Samuel Umtiti telling them they are not part of his long-term plans. Clement Lenglet, Ferran Jutgla, loanees Luuk de Jong and Adama Traore and those who have returned from other loans such as Francisco Trincao and Miralem Pjanic are also likely to be invited to leave the club.
There is also uncertainty over the future of Ousmane Dembele and Dani Alves, both of whom are out of contract next month, while sources add that Barca’s financial situation could force them to listen to big offers for Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong.
However, despite Barca’s desire to initiate the move, they are already facing hurdles. Both Braithwaite and Pjanic have spoken of their desire to complete the last two years of their contracts, while the high salaries of players like Lenglet make it difficult to find an applicant. – Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens
Bale, Di Maria snubbed by Atletico
Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria have both been offered as potential free transfers to Atletico Madrid this summer, sources have confirmed to ESPN, but the LaLiga club have turned down the chance to sign either player.
Bale, 32, will leave Real Madrid after nine years at the club when his contract expires in June, while Di Maria, 34, will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires.
Spanish radio station COPE first reported on Monday that Bale’s representatives had offered him to Atlético. The conversation took place at a meeting with the club’s sports director, Andrea Berta. Sources told ESPN that Atletico appreciated the offer but felt the finances involved in such a deal would make it difficult to justify given Bale’s age. If they were to step up their attack, they would rather focus their efforts on a player who could contribute to the team for a longer period of time.
Bale is preparing for Real Madrid’s Champions League final against Liverpool on Saturday in Paris after an injury-hit season. Sources close to the player told ESPN that no decisions would be made about his future until he has appeared for Wales in June’s games, which include a World Cup qualifying play-off final against Scotland or Ukraine. Bale and his family have been happy living in Madrid despite his reduced role in the team in recent years and his family stayed in the Spanish capital during his 2020-21 loan spell at Tottenham.
Atletico were also offered Di Maria, who played his final game for PSG last weekend, starting and scoring in the 5-0 win over Metz at Parc des Princes. Since joining from Manchester United in 2015, he has made 295 appearances for the Ligue 1 club, scoring 92 goals.
“I am calm. It’s time, I have to think,” he told ESPN on Saturday. “It’s not just my decision, I will always think of my family and then of myself. I will decide what is best for everyone.” — Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez
A number of Premier League clubs are considering a summer move for Braga centre-back David Carmo, sources have told ESPN.
The 22-year-old is highly regarded in Portugal and was called up to Fernando Santos’ squad for the Nations League games against Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic in June.
Sources told ESPN that an offer of around €25m would secure a move from Braga as a number of English clubs have already expressed interest.
Manchester United are among the clubs looking for a left-footed centre-back to bring more balance to their defense this summer and have shortlisted Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres. – Rob Dawson