As this seemingly never-ending transfer saga rumbles on, it is said that De Jong remains open to a move to United, with an initial €65m (£54.8m) fee already agreed (as per Fabrizio Romano) and the structure of a further €20m (£16.8m) yet to be finalised.
However, while that agreement was reached last month, progress has since stalled with it coming to light that the Dutch midfielder is owed £17m by Barcelona in wages and bonuses, having helped the club through a difficult period during the pandemic.
He took a significant pay cut (90min) and extended his contract until 2026 in order for repayments to be paid.
The 25-year-old is said to want to have the issue resolved before committing to a move to Old Trafford and Crook now feels that the Red Devils may have to intervene, and have given the Catalan giants a deadline.
He said: “The problem is this £17m in unpaid wages. My understanding is that a lot of the conversations that took place on Monday revolved around that, and I think Barcelona are hoping that Manchester United can step in and actually fund some of those unpaid wages, which would be quite extraordinary – but it may take that to get the transfer over the line.
“United want it done by Friday, I’m told.”
TIF Thoughts on De Jong and United…
Do you see De Jong leaving Barcelona for Man Utd?
As Barcelona continue to hold much of the European market to ransom with their financial crisis, it would be a huge anti-climax if United were to walk away from their primary target after weeks of negotiations.
Erik ten Hag clearly sees his former Ajax maestro as the centrepiece of his new-look side, and failing to follow through would certainly rub fans up the wrong way.
With the La Liga club closing in on a £50m move for Raphinha and hopeful of luring Robert Lewandowski to Camp Nou with a £34.4m bid already turned down, it would make you think that John Murtough and his fellow officials would most certainly be reluctant to help them out with De Jong’s back-payments, which could yet signal the collapse of this deal.