The former Ajax manager still admires one of his former players
Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag has spoken of his admiration for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong ahead of a meeting between the two clubs in the UEFA Europa League today.
Ten Hag and de Jong were together for two years at Ajax as the tutor trained the midfielder to become one of the best in his position at the time.
Together, they won the 2018/19 Eredivisie and KNVB Cup with Ajax while also reaching a remarkable UEFA Champions League semifinal after defeating Real Madrid and Juventus.
That year, de Jong was named UEFA Midfielder of the Year and was transferred to Barcelona, ending their professional relationship.
Ten Hag hails unique de Jong
Despite this, Ten Hag, now coach of Manchester United, still sees de Jong as a remarkable talent and had this to say about him ahead of the Red Devils’ clash with de Jong’s current club: “In 2019, there was a lot of fascination with that Ajax team. Frenkie brought a lot of that fascination and he has developed over the following years in Spain.
“He's a fantastic player and has become even better. Playing out from the back, he always has time. It was a pleasure working with him. He would strengthen any squad in the world. He's got unique quality.”
De Jong to Manchester United?
His fascination with de Jong has not been without consequence, as Manchester United fought tooth and nail to reunite the former master and student during the summer transfer window but failed to land their man.
On that occasion, it was stated that de Jong had no desire to join Manchester United, but this has not deterred the club from continuing to pursue the Dutchman.
For now, the club, as well as its coach and fans who have been eager to see de Jong in the flesh will have to make do with seeing him when he plays against them for Barcelona in the Europa League.
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