Chelsea report: Manchester United fear the worst as Blues open Frenkie de Jong talks
Chelsea are hoping to hijack their Premier League rivals' deal for the Dutchman
Chelsea have opened talks with Barcelona over a possible deal for Frenkie de Jong, according to reports.
The Netherlands international has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United (opens in new tab) throughout the summer.
The Red Devils have agreed to pay Barcelona (opens in new tab) an initial £63m for the midfielder, but his reluctance to move to Old Trafford has held up a deal.
De Jong is unconvinced by the United project and has reservations about living in Manchester.
He does not feel the Premier League is ideal for his style of play, but he is said to be more open to a move to Chelsea (opens in new tab) given their location in London and their presence in the Champions League.
And it now appears that the Blues have a genuine chance of hijacking United's deal for the former Ajax (opens in new tab) man.
According to The Athletic (opens in new tab), Chelsea have opened direct discussions with Barcelona over the potential transfer of De Jong.
The La Liga giants are prepared to sell the 25-year-old in order to help balance the books after a summer of significant expenditure.
Thomas Tuchel will hope that the club can persuade De Jong that Chelsea is the best place for him at this stage of his career.
However, they will face the same obstacle United have encountered with regards to De Jong's deferred salary payments.
Barcelona owe their player around £14m in wages and that has been one of the issues that has complicated matters for the Red Devils.
Chelsea will hope that De Jong's apparent preference for the Blues helps to smooth out such issues.
Tuchel's side are also hoping to complete deals for at least two more defenders, with Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella among those on the wish list.
Chelsea will begin the new Premier League season against Frank Lampard's Everton (opens in new tab) this weekend, before a crunch London derby against Antonio Conte's Tottenham (opens in new tab) eight days later.
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Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).