Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk gives verdict on Man Utd target Frenkie de Jong

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Virgil van Dijk has claimed that Frenkie de Jong ‘always’ plays well in a glowing reference for the Manchester United transfer target. The Liverpool ace played alongside De Jong as the Netherlands thrashed Belgium 4-1 on Friday evening. 

It was the first time that the Dutch had beaten their neighbours in 25 years. Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn opened the scoring and Barcelona forward Memphis Depay scored twice either side of a Denzel Dumphries strike. 

Chelsea misfit Michy Batshuayi scored a late consolation for Belgium in the Nations League clash. Fellow Blues striker Romelu Lukaku hobbled off with an injury. 

But despite the array of goalscorers, it was Barcelona star De Jong who caught Van Dijk’s eye. The midfielder played the full 90 minutes for Louis van Gaal’s side and, according to Van Dijk, produced a typically excellent performance. 

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“Bergwijn was incredible, [Steven] Berghuis too. Memphis was excellent. Frenkie, well, he always plays good in my eyes,” the Liverpool centre-back said in a post-match press conference. 

The 30-year-old may have inadvertently provided a reference for his international team-mate to United. Incoming Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag is keen to make De Jong one of his first signings. 

It was widely reported last week that talks between United and De Jong had advanced, although it is unclear whether the former Ajax midfielder wants to join. There are also doubts over Barcelona’s willingness to sell the player, who played under Ten Hag at his old club. 

De Jong, who is apparently rated by the La Liga outfit at around £72million, made 46 appearances across all competitions last term. Barca enjoyed a monumental upturn in form following the appointment of Xavi Hernandez before Christmas, and ultimately finished second to Real Madrid. 

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Ten Hag has a major task rebuilding United after a dismal campaign. The Red Devils finished sixth and recorded their lowest-ever Premier League points tally of 58. 

Interim head coach Ralf Rangnick predicted that there could be up to 10 new arrivals at Old Trafford this summer. “There will be a rebuild for sure but that does not help us when we still have five games to play,” he said after United were thrashed by Liverpool in April. 

“If you analyse the situation it is not difficult to analyse. For me, it is clear there will be six, seven, eight, maybe ten new players. Before you sign those players you need to be aware how you want to play.”

United have at least gone some way to prompting that overhaul with the confirmation of four major departures. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani will all leave when their contracts expire at the end of June. 

That will hand Ten Hag plenty of room to manoeuvre in the transfer window. It remains to be seen whether he can attract top target De Jong to Old Trafford. 

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