Chelsea are reportedly confident of hijacking Manchester United’s Frenkie de Jong deal after entering talks with Barcelona.

According to The Athletic, Chelsea have already kick-started negotiations with Barcelona over a deal to sign Dutch playmaker Frenkie de Jong, a target for Manchester United. The Blues are optimistic that an agreement can be struck in the coming weeks.

The Frenkie de Jong transfer soap opera is set to dominate the headlines this month as Barcelona look to sanction the sale of the Dutch international to balance the books ahead of the new season after spending over €150 million on signing Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, and Jules Kounde this summer.

Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie have also arrived on free transfers thanks to president Joan Laporta activating the well-documented economic levers. Meanwhile, Manchester United have been pushing hard to secure de Jong’s signature all summer, with new manager Erik ten Hag identifying the 25-year-old as one of his top transfer targets this summer.

Manchester United and Barcelona have agreed on an €85 million deal, but de Jong is thought to be apprehensive about joining ten Hag’s side, attributed to the absence of UEFA Champions League. There is also the matter of the player’s deferred wages of about €17 million, which Barcelona are refusing to settle at the moment while pressuring him to take a pay cut in the upcoming season if he wishes to stay at Camp Nou.

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While the midfielder has so far rebuffed Manchester United’s attempts, a transfer away from Camp Nou could soon be on the cards. That is because Chelsea have entered the race to steal him away from their Premier League rivals, initiating direct talks with Barcelona.

The Blues hold a long-term interest in the Dutch international and are hopeful that they can strike a deal with all parties soon. Thomas Tuchel has a plethora of options in the centre of the park, but some believe it is an area that can be improved upon greatly with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho into their thirties.

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has chosen a scattergun approach to this summer’s business so far, but he is only targeting players who have already established themselves at the top level. Frenkie de Jong is a world-class talent who fits the criteria, and at 25, the Barcelona midfielder is still fairly young.

Despite Chelsea’s interest, de Jong remains Manchester United’s No. 1 target, with ten Hag desperate for a reunion with the former Ajax midfielder. Although they have thrown the kitchen sink to get him to Old Trafford, the transfer saga has rumbled on for nearly three months. But Manchester United remain determined in their pursuit of the playmaker.

Meanwhile, Chelsea also have more leverage than Manchester United in negotiations with Barcelona due to the Catalan giants’ strong interest in Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso. Meanwhile, de Jong is open to joining Chelsea, with the Blues able to offer Champions League football, which might be the deciding factor.

Also Read: Three potential Frenkie de Jong replacements for Barcelona

It remains to be seen whether Chelsea can secure a deal for de Jong. But if they do, it will be a bitter pill to swallow for Manchester United, since they will be losing their prime target to a direct competitor.

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