Manchester United are in the market for a midfield maestro – and ex-Red Devils’ star Gary Pallister feels Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong has all the attributes to succeed at Old Trafford.
The 25-year-old Dutchman is believed to be on Erik ten Hag’s wishlist this summer, though United would have to part with more than £60million to land the former Ajax star.
Despite suggestions that Barca’s No21 could be too lightweight for the Premier League, Pallister is confident in De Jong’s ability to adapt.
Ten Hag Knows De Jong Qualities
Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: He [De Jong] has been a fantastic player – Ten Hag knows him, he knows his qualities, he knows his character.
“There's a few conundrums for the new manager walking in. De Jong has proven himself at an elite level.
“The Premier League is different, there's no doubt about it. I think it is, and has been for a long time, the toughest league in the world.
“There are no gimmes in the Premier League, you're fighting for every point and it's physical – there's game after game after game and you've got to be prepared for that.
“It might be a bit of a shock to him but he's definitely got the ability to cope with it. You don't often see foreign players come over here and sort of excel in a different league.
“It's such a tough league to play in. I don't know his character but De Jong certainly has the ability to succeed.”
Declan Rice Another Option
A proven alternative to De Jong could be West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, who has been linked with a big-money move to Old Trafford after a series of eye-catching displays for the Irons and England.
And Pallister has been impressed by the 23-year-old’s development over recent seasons.
“He [Rice] has been banded around Manchester United for the last two to three years,” he said.
“He looks as though he's really maturing as a player and takes on responsibility – good use of the ball, breaks things up well, he's a work horse but he's got a bit of quality as well.
“He's a good fit. You hear all these price tags, and I think that would probably scare a few sides off – which is what West Ham are trying to do.
“But I don't think there's any doubt in his ability. We've seen him for England, we've seen him for West Ham.
“I think he's got true quality and if he arrived at Manchester United this season, I think they'd be delighted with that – because he's certainly got that type of character that Manchester United are looking for.”
Eriksen On United’s Radar
Rice or De Jong could even be joined in Manchester by Brentford playmaker Christian Eriksen, after United scouts reportedly watched the Denmark star on international duty this week.
The 30-year-old is available on a free transfer, following the expiry of his short-term deal with the Bees – so could be a smart piece of business, as Pallister explained.
“I think he [Eriksen] is a fantastic player,” he revealed.
“I know he can do it in the Premier League, I saw him at Tottenham, he was outstanding there and that's what got him the big move [to Inter Milan].
“After all the problems he's had, it's great to see him back playing football.
“If he was to arrive at Manchester United, there's no doubt about him – he's proven it in the Premier League already, that he can handle it.
“I think he's a little bit like Bruno Fernandes. I don't know if you'd be able to fit both of those players in the same team but it would be a nice combination to have I guess.
“He's got great quality, proven in the Premier League and on a free transfer, if you get him into your club.
“I'm sure every club in the world would be happy to have Eriksen in their side. It's one Ten Hag will maybe be looking at – it's not often that players of that class come up for free.”
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