Gareth Bale has signed for Los Angeles FC. / REUTERS

Bizarre summer dealings

De Jong is off to England, while Bale jets to Hollywood

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

The moneymen at Barcelona will be finding it hard to hide their glee as they negotiate with their Manchester United counterparts for Frenkie de Jong's potential transfer.

The English club's new Dutch coach, Erik ten Hag, has expressed a desire to be reunited with the creative influence behind their success together at Ajax. Reaching the Champions League semi-final in 2019 prompted Barcelona to bring the talented young midfielder to La Liga for 75 million euros. Three years later, he's done very little to justify the large investment. It's reported that United are prepared to pay 60 million plus add-ons.

It will be hard to disguise the fact that - for several reasons - Barça will be ready to bite their gold-encrusted hands off.

Firstly, Barça are desperate for income so they can refresh the team. Sixty million is a very generous offer. There is probably a premium, given the relationship between coach and player.

Secondly, De Jong hasn't got close to the expectations of a player who drove the Ajax midfield, where he really made things happen. At Barça, most games have passed him by. He's recorded just eight goals and nine assists in three La Liga seasons. When Xavi firmly established himself as the coach, it should be observed that he started to substitute the Dutchman in most games - nine in a row between February and April.

De Jong was apparently reticent about not enjoying Champions League football at Old Trafford. He didn't appear to enjoy the elite European competition last season as he didn't manage a single goal or assist. But Barça will take the money to the bank to pay off debts and invest in fresh talent.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, Gareth Bale has said goodbye to Spain and is jetting off to America. It appeared to be a tough choice between heading home to Cardiff or a Hollywood ending to his career in Los Angeles. His motivation is to keep ticking over until the World Cup starts in November. Cardiff City have midweek and weekend games leading up to the winter break, which isn't what he wants for his fragile frame.

At LAFC he can train in the sunshine, MLS matches are far less frequent and he will also be greeted as a marquee player. He'll play alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Carlos Vela, who set themselves exceptionally high standards. There is also the fact that Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines are more playable golf courses than Celtic Manor in the autumn! Maybe Málaga should have made a cheeky bid; I'd have welcomed him as a playing partner at Santana and Miraflores golf clubs.