De Jong quizzed on Man Utd transfer links in June
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Manchester United aren’t in for Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic despite suggestions he could arrive as an alternative to Frenkie de Jong, Express Sport understands. Erik ten Hag is eager to bolster his midfield by the time the summer transfer window shuts on September 1. But the Serbia international won’t be arriving at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have spent 12 weeks pursuing De Jong, who is Ten Hag’s main transfer target at Old Trafford.
Barcelona are open to letting the 25-year-old go so they can register new signings such as Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie.
And United have agreed a fee with their Catalan counterparts, with the Red Devils prepared to pay an initial £63million in order to get a deal done.
Amid the ongoing saga, Milinkovic-Savic has emerged as a potential alternative.
The Lazio star flourished under Maurizio Sarri last term, scoring 11 goals from 37 Serie A appearances as they finished fifth in the table – behind only AC Milan, Inter Milan, Napoli and Juventus.
But Express Sport understands the 27-year-old isn’t on United’s radar, with De Jong their sole focus.
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Every summer, the Red Devils are linked with a variety of players from numerous clubs over the globe.
And United think their name is being used to help Lazio secure an even higher fee for Milinkovic-Savic, while they also think it could be put down to agent talk.
The Serb was previously a target for Jose Mourinho during his stint at Old Trafford, which may explain the resurfaced links.
Mourinho, in 2018, felt Paul Pogba needed moving on.
He believed the France international had lost focus, with the pair’s relationship souring following the decision to make Alexis Sanchez the club’s highest earner.
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Mourinho also feared Pogba’s ego growing after he helped France win the World Cup in Russia, showing himself to be one of the best players at the tournament.
And Milinkovic-Savic was eyed as a result, having established himself as one of the best performers in Serie A.
In the end, however, nothing materialised.
Pogba proceeded to stay at United that summer, with the midfielder going on to spend four more years at Old Trafford before leaving on a free transfer earlier this year.
And Milinkovic-Savic has remained at Lazio, who begin their Serie A campaign against Bologna next Sunday (5.30pm).
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He is not the only player being linked with United amid their ongoing pursuit of De Jong, however.
Ruben Neves is one option – though Wolves have regularly insisted they’d want around £100million for their prized asset.
Youri Tielemans is another, with the Leicester star having just one year left on his contract at the King Power Stadium.
But though Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are admired, United are far likelier to pursue the West Ham and Borussia Dortmund players next summer instead.
Regarding De Jong, meanwhile, United legend Gary Neville thinks Ten Hag’s close relationship with the Barcelona star must be why they’re refusing to throw in the towel for the 25-year-old.
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“Look if the manager has a relationship with the player, you’d have thought United would have abandoned that deal ages ago,” he said.
“If Ten Hag trusts, knows, looks…they’d have surely aborted that mission weeks ago.
“You’ve got to read between the lines a little bit and think he must be getting told something that we’re not.
“If he’s said ‘no I’m not coming I want to stay at Barcelona’ or ‘I want to go to London to play in the Champions League’, surely at that point United would have said ‘we’re out of the race for Frenkie de Jong.
“That they’re still in it, there must be something there.”
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