Former Man United top scout reveals how club missed out on Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt – Man United News And Transfer News
The post-Sir Alex Ferguson era at Manchester United has been characterised by a hot-potch approach in the transfer market which has included a heavy outlay on players with very little to show for it.
United have comfortably spent more than a billion in the decade gone by and have never come close to winning either the Premier League or Champions League.
While new manager Erik ten Hag did end the club’s six-year trophy drought last season, the club have failed to back him properly in the market, just like all his predecessors.
Only a couple of seasons ago did United change their structure to name a new Director of Football, even though the post went to John Murtough, who had no significant experience in that role.
United’s missed opportunity in the transfer market
United have often missed out on the cream of the crop due to delays and this time former scout Marcel Bout has revealed how Ten Hag could have had his two proteges with him at the club if not for the long lines of communication that exist at United.
The 61-year-old had initially joined the club as an analyst when Louis van Gaal was in charge before becoming a scout between 2016 and 2022.
As per the Dutchman, United had compiled a thorough scouting report on then-emerging Ajax talents Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt but the club never acted on that information.
Bout revealed that he had informed then-general manager Ed Woodward about a possible collaboration with Ajax regarding the pair as former United legend Edwin van der Sar was handling affairs at Ajax back then.
“The 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was then playing for Ajax, later Frenkie de Jong followed suit,” he explained to Algemeen Dagblad (via Football Transfers).
“‘Make sure that United makes a deal early on for these types of talents. Then you can always let them develop for a while in the Netherlands,’ I said.”
“I said to Woodward: ‘Edwin van der Sar played here, now create a bridge to Ajax through him,’” Bout added.
Of course, better sense hardly ever prevails at United and the Reds never did come in for the pair until they became world beaters and eventually joined Juventus and Barcelona respectively.
De Ligt was moved on for €85.5 million in the summer of 2019, while De Jong joined his dream club for €86 million.
United’s flawed approach needs to change
“Because there are so many forces at play within United, you don’t make decisions at all or you make them too late. Isn’t that a shame?”
“A major annoyance was the long lines [of communication] within United to make decisions about interesting players. There are now top players at other European top clubs that we had seen early on with the scouting staff.”
It is well-known that Ten Hag is a huge admirer of De Jong and wanted him as his priority signing when he came to Old Trafford. Despite United’s best attempts, the player ended up staying at the Camp Nou.
United continue to harbour hopes of a link-up between the midfielder and Ten Hag but at this stage, it looks unlikely. De Ligt, who had an indifferent spell in Serie A, has also been linked with United but he is currently at Bayern Munich.