Chelsea are in discussions with Barcelona over the transfer of Frenkie de Jong, with the London club now looking hugely credible challengers to Manchester United for his signature.
The Old Trafford hierarchy had agreed a deal in principle with Barcelona a month ago, but the Catalan club have become frustrated with progress, especially as the player himself has proved obstinate over both the issue of €17m in deferred wages and the very fact he is being forced out.
While there have been repeated claims from Spain that that obstinance is most bluntly down to the fact he does not want to go to United, there is a strong belief within Old Trafford that he willing to come.
De Jong has, naturally, been speaking to his former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag.
United have effectively been caught in a dispute between club and player, but one that has now seen Barcelona get increasingly alert to the fact time is running out to get players off the books in order to register new signings. It is understood that, although United have long felt the transfer could go to the wire, Barcelona expected De Jong to be gone by now.
It is for that reason that Barcelona have heightened talks with Chelsea, to see if anything can be done more quickly.
(© Independent News Service)