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Frenkie de Jong transfer had Tuchel 'in tears' but may fix major Chelsea issue as Raphinha waits

Football London logo Football London 03/07/2022 Scott Trotter
Frenkie de Jong during the UEFA Nations League A Group 4 match between the Netherlands and Wales © Geert van Erven/Orange Pictures Frenkie de Jong during the UEFA Nations League A Group 4 match between the Netherlands and Wales

The Dutch press reported in 2020 that Thomas Tuchel was 'literally in tears' at the news his PSG side had missed out on Frenkie de Jong when the former Ajax midfielder completed his move to Barcelona. The Netherlands international completed a transfer worth £65 million to the Nou Camp - the kind the Catalan club dream of making now.

The midfielder's agent noted that there was plenty of interest in his client. Ali Dursun said: "Everyone knows how much interest there was, and Frenkie carefully weighed up all options. I am naturally a bit more impatient. But when he had made his decision, it had to be Barcelona. I've known him for so long, I know when he really wants something."

Indeed, it was de Jong's dream to make the move to Barca. As recently as June, the 25-year-old admitted that he still feels the same. He told ESPN: "Barcelona is just my dream club, from a young age. I just said it too. I've never regretted my choice despite the fact that I had hoped for more in terms of prizes than I've achieved so far. But I have never regretted my choice."

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Tuchel could be forgiven for experiencing a sense of deja vu in the last seven days as Chelsea came to an agreement with Leeds United to sign Raphinha. Every attempt to do the deal quickly has appeared rebuffed by the midfielder's insistence that Barcelona is his preference and wants to see if the La Liga side can muster the funds.

Xavi's team certainly have financial difficulties with a £177.6 million cash injection. Perhaps it is still not enough for Barcelona to register the likes of Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen, never mind completing new signings. Cash-strapped, reports from Spain suggest that despite de Jong living his dream - he could be the asset to depart. The Dutchman still holds significant value but only completed 90 minutes 13 times in 33 games since his head coach's arrival.

Manchester United have proved to be the most vaunted side linked to his signature but cannot provide the allure of the Champions League even if they can rely upon Erik ten Hag's connection. That is something the Blues can offer, and judging by the speed of the Blues' agreement with Leeds, Chelsea have money they can make use of with urgency.

It's clear de Jong is not remotely the same kind of player as Raphinha, and while reinvigoration of the club's forward options seems to be a matter of urgency for Tuchel and Todd Boehly, with Raheem Sterling also set to sign, it's an area Chelsea are well stocked in. Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner and Mason Mount provide a number of options.

The story in the centre of midfield is more precarious. Both N'Golo Kante and Jorginho are ageing and have entered the final year of their deals. It would be surprising to see both extend their stay. Options remain in the form of Billy Gilmour and Ethan Ampadu, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Conor Gallagher could take up more progressive roles in the centre of midfielder as Chelsea considers who Mateo Kovacic will be assisted by. With no immediate successor to the duo making their stand yet, it remains a position the Blues will soon have to consider or risk a situation as they did in their defence.

Chelsea would risk losing out on a target of their own but may be able to agree a reasonable fee to a team that appears in urgent need of cash flow to complete a growing list of transfers this summer.

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