August 20, 2022

Here we go again. Last summer, Manchester United signed Jadon Sancho for less than Borussia Dortmund wanted after a protracted saga. And lightning could now strike twice amid suggestions they have agreed a reduced fee with Barcelona for midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

Last summer, it was an open secret that United wanted to sign Sancho.

The England international nearly moved to Old Trafford in 2017, when Jose Mourinho was manager, only to eventually join Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

United were eyeing Sancho in 2019 but, after failing to qualify for the Champions League, opted to sign Daniel James.

And, in 2020, they huffed and huffed all summer only to end up missing once again.

That year, Dortmund made it clear they wanted a fee approaching £108million to consider letting the winger go.

But United, believing the price was far too high, decided to walk away and acquire Edinson Cavani on a free transfer instead.

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Last year, however, the Red Devils finally struck gold.

After weeks of negotiations, they were able to agree a £73m deal for Sancho – who was more than happy to return to the Premier League, having spent time at Manchester City.

And, now it looks like United are going to repeat the trick.

Although their pursuit of De Jong didn’t last for years like with Sancho, it was always prolonged. Especially for journalists who have to write about it day after day.

It was in April that it became clear United would be looking to land the midfielder, who only moved from Ajax to Barcelona three years ago.

And since then, the saga has continued to turn.

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United, at the start, were told they would have to spend around £89million to land De Jong – the same amount they paid for Paul Pogba six years ago.

Since then, fans have been getting impatient. United, in their eyes, are wasting time by focusing on the 25-year-old for so long.

Manchester City signed Erling Haaland with speed, landing the Dortmund striker ahead of La Liga and Champions League winners Real Madrid.

And Liverpool were equally quick in winning the race for Darwin Nunez, who had previously been considered at United.

John Murtough and his negotiating team were tough throughout. They are adamant that they won’t overpay and don’t want to be the solution to Barcelona’s financial problems.

And now it looks like that patience is about to pay off.

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Reports in Catalonia have claimed that De Jong has told Barcelona he’s staying – and that he wants to be at the club for the next four years.

But on these shores, the story is different. Instead, De Jong is set to undergo a medical at United soon after a £56million fee was agreed.

It will increase with the additions but, for Murtough and the Red Devils scouting department, it’s a win. One that could be huge in years to come.

United have, for the second time in as many years, managed to negotiate a lower price for their top target.

And, for Erik ten Hag, it bodes well for the future.

United are not expected to stop at signing De Jong, with Feyenoord’s Tyrell Malacia also in their sights.

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The Dutch international is set to join the club, having appeared set to move to France with Lyon.

United also want to attack Ajax for Lisandro Martinez, pending the departure of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe.

And when it comes to their attack, Ten Hag is keen to reunite with Antony – having convinced the best of the Brazil international during their time in Amsterdam together.

With De Jong, United still have hurdles to overcome. Still, there is a feeling that the deal could be announced in the next few days, in time for the player to be involved in the pre-season.

Right now, all signs point to him being the next Sancho and landing a European rival for far less than originally expected.