Manchester United have had an opening bid for Frenkie de Jong of €60m (£51.3m) plus a potential €10m in add-ins rejected by Barcelona.
The clubs remain in contact, with Erik ten Hag making the Netherlands midfielder a priority target in his first summer as United’s manager. The pair worked together for a year and a half at Ajax.
Barcelona value De Jong at about €85m and may be willing to sell because of their financial predicament. A deal would make it easier for them to pursue players such as Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
De Jong is not pushing to leave Barcelona – he told the Guardian in February he hoped to stay “for many more years” – and if he were to move his preference would be to join a club in the Champions League.
United have qualified for next season’s Europa League but hope the presence of Ten Hag and their planned rebuild could convince the 25-year-old to join.
Darwin Núñez is among other players on United’s wishlist but Liverpool are ahead in the battle to sign the Benfica forward. They have made a formal proposal to buy the Uruguay international for €80m plus add-ons, as expected, and are ready to give Núñez a five-year contract.
Discussions are continuing between Liverpool and Benfica regarding the scale of the add-ons, likely to be worth up to €20m, and how the fee would be paid, with Liverpool favouring installments.