Manchester United are set to embark on a new era under new manager Erik Ten Hag as they aim to strengthen their squad ahead of the new season. United endured a horrendous campaign last season as they missed out on a top-four spot in the Premier League to finish a disappointing sixth while also getting knocked from the Round of 16 in the Champions League.
After sacking former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season and letting go of Ralf Rangnick, who served as an interim manager after Solskjaer’s departure, United are banking on Ten Hag to bail them out of trouble next season and bring an end to the five-year-long trophy drought at the club.
However, with a squad full of glaring holes that need to be filled ahead of the new season, Ten Hag has his task cut out. The Dutch manager has already prioritised midfield as a key area that he would like to reinforce ahead of the new season after the departure of the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
While United have already roped in Christian Eriksen on a free signing, they are still in the market for more solid midfielders with Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong on top of their wish list. De Jong has been heavily linked with a move to United this summer and it is believed a deal for the Dutch midfielder is close despite his initial reluctance to leave the La Liga club.
De Jong is one of the most talented midfielders in the world, who joined Barcelona from Ajax in 2020. However, the Dutch midfielder is reportedly on extraordinarily high wages and Barcelona are looking to offload him to balance their wage bill ahead of the new season.
Barcelona have already made a host of new signings this summer and keeping De Jong on his current wages might pose a problem for them in registering their new signings. If his move to Manchester United materialises, De Jong will join a unique list of footballers who have played for Barcelona and United, two of the most successful clubs in the world.
Here is a look at some of the top footballers who have played for both Barcelona and Man Utd:
Jordi Cruyff, the son of Barcelona and Netherland legend Johan Cruyff is one of the handful of footballers to have played for Barcelona and Manchester United in their careers. Jordi, an attacking midfielder started his career at Barcelona where he came up through the ranks before making his first team debut in 1994.
Jordi made 54 appereances for Barcelona before joining United in 1996. He scored 8 times in 54 games for United and ledt the club on loan to La Liga side Celta Vigo in 1999 before securing a permanent move to Alaves. Jordi is currently serving as an sporting advisor for his former club Barcelona.
Gerard Pique, who is regarded as one of the finest central defenders of the generation, came through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy. However, he left Barcelona to join Manchester United in 2004 and spent 4 seasons at Old Trafford before returning to Barcelona in 2008.
He established his credentials as one of the best defenders in the world at Barcelona and helped them dominate European football for several years. Pique is still at Barcelona having won 8 La Liga titles, 3 Champions League trophies and 3 UEFA Super Cup titles with the club so far.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic too enjoyed successive spells at both FC Barcelona and Manchester United. The Swedish striker, who currently plays for Italian club AC Milan and is still going strong at 40, spent two seasons at United under fomer manager Jose Mourinho from 2016 to 2018.
Ibrahimovic scored 29 goals in 53 appereances for the Red Devils and won the Europa League and the League Cup with the club. The superstar striker had earlier spent two seasons with FC Barcelona as well from 2009 to 2011 where he scored 16 goals in 29 matches in the La Liga before joining AC Milan.
Aexis Sanchez might be one of the finest forwards of the current generation but the Chilean had a forgetful spell at Manchester United after signing for the club from Premier League rivals Arsenal in 2018. He managed just 3 goals in 32 league appereances for United in what was a horrendous spell for the Chilean at Old Trafford.
Sanchez, however, enjoyed a successful spell at FC Barcelona from 2011 to 2014. The Chilean forward made 88 appereances for the Spanish club and scored 39 goals while winning a La Liga and a UEFA Super Cup title with the club.
Memphis Depay was considered the next big thing in Dutch football when Manchester United signed him from PSV Eindhoven in 2015. Depay arrived in a deal worth 25 million pounds and signed a 4-year contract at United. He had a decent start before suffering a downfall after infamously asking to wear the iconic no.7 shirt at United.
Depay managed to score only 7 goals in 53 appereances for the club before leaving for French club Lyon in 2016. He scripted his resurgence at Lyon with 76 goas in 178 appereances before FC Barcelona roped him in last year to bolster their attack. However, Depay has failed to impress at Barcelona and might leave the club this summer.
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