Chelsea could break Manchester United hearts in the summer transfer window by hijacking their long-winded pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie d
Chelsea could break Manchester United hearts in the summer transfer window by hijacking their long-winded pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. United’s summer dealings have orbited around the 25-year-old, but it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve lost out to the Blues in the transfer market.
According to Spanish reports, Chelsea are doing ‘everything’ to firm up their interest in De Jong as his move to Old Trafford continues to stall over complicated hurdles. And with Barcelona eyeing Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso, they could opt to do business with the west London club rather than United.
De Jong is also reluctant to sacrifice Champions League football if he’s forced out of the Camp Nou door. Unlike United, Chelsea can offer that. So are Chelsea about to serve the Red Devils their latest slice of transfer heartbreak and leave Erik ten Hag without his priority target?
Express Sport pinpoints SIX players United have narrowly missed out on due to late Chelsea hijacks.
Arjen Robben (2004)
After flying to London to meet Sir Alex Ferguson in 2004, 19-year-old Arjen Robben was impressed by what he heard: “It would be fantastic if I could play for Manchester [United].” However, a late Chelsea offer trumped that of United and PSV Eindhoven brokered that deal on priority. He helped the Blues win back-to-back Premier League titles before joining Real Madrid.
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Didier Drogba (2004)
Chelsea also frustrated United over Didier Drogba in 2004. Ferguson was lining up a move for the iconic Ivorian before their Premier League rivals, again, stole a march. “We went to check him out [at Marseille], but the club wanted £25million, and Chelsea moved in for the kill before we had made up our minds,” Ferguson lamented in one of his books.
John Obi Mikel (2006)
Perhaps not the biggest name, but the wildest hijack of all… Two years later, John Obi Mikel not only agreed to join United, but he had signed his contract with the club before Chelsea came knocking. The Blues simultaneously agreed the transfer with Lyn Oslo and ended up paying United £12m to terminate their deal, allowing the midfielder to join.
Nicolas Anelka (2008)
Like Stephen King’s IT, returning to terrorise the small town of Derry every 27 years, it seems Chelsea took inspiration, haunting United in the transfer market every two. This time for another highly-rated striker, Nicolas Anelka. In January 2008, the Frenchman told Bolton Wanderers staff he expected to move to Old Trafford after agreeing terms, only to complete a £15m switch to Chelsea days later.
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Eden Hazard (2012)
Eden Hazard flourished into one of the Premier League’s best-ever wingers at Chelsea before completing an £89m move to Real Madrid. He admitted he was in ‘advanced talks with both clubs and coaches’, but a chat with Roman Abramovich dashed United’s hopes. At the time, Hazard said: “I spoke with Abramovich; he is very simple and loves football. There was a struggle between Chelsea and United, but according to me Chelsea has the best project.”
Admittedly, this is likely one of the least painful examples on the list for United fans… In 2015, Ed Woodward flew to Barcelona to complete a deal for Pedro before the Spaniard’s agent claimed the Red Devils ‘fell asleep’ during talks. Woodward was known to be ever-reliable, of course… Chelsea swooped in late to complete a £21m deal and new owner Todd Boehly could take to Camp Nou this summer to seam a repeat. A much more agonising repeat.