Manchester United now view Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz as a ‘serious alternative’ to Frenkie de Jong as the Red Devils finally begin assessing potential backup options for the Dutchman. Erik ten Hag and the Old Trafford hierarchy are stubborn in their approach, insisting that De Jong remain United’s transfer priority until a deal is completely in the water.
But little progress has been made after 12 solid weeks of work on the deal, despite a fee being agreed with Barcelona.
United have already shook hands with a £72million package, including extras, but De Jong has been consistent in saying he wants to stay in Catalonia.
Now Goal is reporting that United could turn its attention to Spanish international Ruiz, who the club sees as a ‘serious alternative’.
Ruiz is in the final year of his contract with Napoli and could face a difficult season after failing to agree a new contract.
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De Jong wants to play in the European elite club competition and that is partly why he has little interest in starting at United.
His first choice, however, is to stay with Barcelona, as discussions over a pay cut continue.
Barça need De Jong and several other high-profile players to agree salary cuts to register some of their new signings, including Robert Lewandowski, Jules Koude and Raphinha.
But so far, De Jong has not shown any desire to cut his wages, although this could be the only way to stay at Camp Nou.
Italian journalist and Napoli expert Ciro Venerato recently revealed that United had made a move to sign Ruiz through his agent.
He told CalcioNapoli24: “Manchester United made an effort with Fabian’s entourage.”
Ten Hag has already expressed his desire to improve the club’s capabilities in midfield and other parts of the field: “We have signed [Christian] Eriksen for midfield, we are very happy with that.
“I am also happy with the performance of our midfield and our attacking division.
“This season has a lot of games, with the World Cup, so we need more options.
“We need a good team, a good selection, to get the right results at the end of the season. We need to strengthen the squad even more and we look around, but we need the right players.”