Manchester United’s protracted move for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong has dominated headlines for almost three months now. There is still no end in sight with chances of United missing out on their primary target increasing by the day.
Erik ten Hag is aware of the need to strengthen in the middle of the park considering the lack of depth in that department.
CDM a worry for United
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And with the end of the transfer window approaching fast, the Dutch boss has privately hinted at the need to keep alternatives ready in case De Jong does not arrive in Manchester.
And one player who has impressed the former Ajax coach is Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz. According to Goal, Ten Hag sees the Spaniard as someone who can dictate the side’s style of play just like De Jong.
That the Red Devils are interested in securing the Spanish international’s services shows that they are finally running out of patience with Barcelona and the Netherlands international.
As reported previously, United had even tabled a bid with Ruiz’s agent but Napoli had rejected it for being too low. There is a chance that United might be back in for him considering Ruiz’s wish to leave Naples.
The 26-year-old has won 15 caps for Spain and his excellent passing range means he can be the perfect orchestrator from deep.
Ruiz the perfect alternative
According to stats from SofaScore, Ruiz’s tackling ability outscored that of De Jong (1.7 to 1.1) while mopping up opposition attacks was De Jong’s forte (3.8 to 2.7).
Both rank high in terms of passing ability while Ruiz’ penchant for long passes outscored that of the Dutchman. Offensively, Ruiz ranks higher having seven goals and four assists while De Jong managed just three goals and three assists.
But Ten Hag has always maintained that either the perfect target arrives or the club is willing to wait. “You don’t need any player, you need the right player, that’s what we’re working for. If it’s not the right player, no (we would not sign another player). We need the right players.”
That is a clear indication of what Ten Hag thinks about buying an alternative for De Jong. But with United set to start the Premier League campaign without their primary target, it might not be long before the new manager has no other choice but to pursue another midfielder. In that case, Ruiz would be the ideal candidate.
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