Manchester United are confident Barcelona will lower their €85m (£73m) asking price for Frenkie de Jong because of the Catalan club’s difficult financial position and the lack of other suitors for the midfielder.
After Barcelona last week rejected an initial United offer of €60m (£51.3m) plus a potential €10m in add-ons, the club may make a second bid of about €70m plus add-ons for the 25-year-old.
United are conscious that Barcelona’s finances mean they will almost certainly be forced to sell De Jong to strengthen their squad. His fee and lucrative salary being removed would help the club. There is also an awareness that with the summer market difficult for many teams because of the effects of Covid there is currently little realistic competition for De Jong.
The Netherlands international is Erik ten Hag’s prime target, with the new manager retaining an interest in Ajax’s Antony, though the winger is one of a few forwards under consideration.
Jurien Timber, whom Ten Hag also wants to sign, is set to stay at Ajax. United have been informed that the defender, who can operate at right-back and in central defence, wants guaranteed first-team football to secure his Netherlands place for the World Cup.
Ten Hag is intent that he help Harry Maguire and Raphaël Varane, his first-choice central defensive pairing, return a better campaign after each struggled last season, and is content with Victor Lindelöf as competition for the pair,
United are considering other options in defence and will listen to offers for Eric Bailly, Alex Tuanzebe and Phil Jones. If one or more of these do leave, Ten Hag can move to bolster this area of the squad.