Transfer Talk: Manchester United join race for Ajax wunderkind Frenkie de Jong

The transfer window for all of Europe's big five leagues is closed, but that doesn't stop Transfer Talk from rummaging around about who will be moving where come January.

United deploy secret weapon to snare De Jong

Manchester United are hoping to pip a host of rival clubs to the signing of highly rated Ajax youngster Frenkie de Jong by capitalising on a special connection they have in the Dutch club's boardroom, says the Sun.

De Jong has played his way onto the transfer hit lists of several elite European clubs in recent months, with Barcelona and Real Madrid both rumoured to be tracking the 21-year-old.

In a bid to beat their rivals to the punch, United are banking on one of their former players -- Edwin van der Sar -- to play a pivotal role in getting a deal for De Jong over the line. The former goalkeeper attained legendary status at Old Trafford before hanging up his gloves and returning to Ajax as part of the executive staff. He currently works as a CEO of the Amsterdam side.

However, any future move for De Jong won't come cheap, with Manchester City already seeing a £50 million offer for the dynamic defensive midfielder flatly rejected last summer.

United face battle for another wunderkind

Speaking of young midfielders, it looks like United and Arsenal are set to slog it out once again, this time over the acquisition of Hertha Berlin starlet Arne Maier.

The Germany under-21 international was watched by scouts from both clubs during a recent DFB Pokal game, as reported by German media outlet Sport1. What's more, Barcelona are also rumoured to have "expressed an interest" in Maier, whose current contract runs until 2022.

A defensive player by trade, the 19-year-old has already amassed 26 appearances for the Hertha senior team after being promoted from the reserves ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Arsenal back in for Banega?

Arsenal could be about to revive their attempts to sign Ever Banega, having seemingly given up on luring the combative midfielder from Sevilla a few months ago. The Gunners' new chief executive, Raul Sanllehi, is a big fan of Banega and wants to bring in the Argentina international to add a little extra competition to the squad, according to the Sun.

Unai Emery made a tentative approach to sign Banega over the summer, but instead the player chose to extend his deal at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for a further two years.

However, the report suggests that the 30-year-old stalwart has an £18 million buyout clause written into the small print of his contract -- a price at which Arsenal may be ready to negotiate.

Liverpool in pole position for Barella

Liverpool have been handed a "major boost" in their efforts to secure the signature of promising young Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella.

According to the Daily Star, the Reds have moved into prime position in the chase to land Barella after Juventus dropped their interest in signing the 21-year-old, who is valued at around £35 million. Roma and both AC and Inter Milan are also rumoured to still be keen, but Jurgen Klopp and his cohorts now have a "slight edge" over the remaining suitors.

Klopp's midfield options are already strong, with new signings Naby Keita and Fabinho adding depth to the mix. However, it would seem that when it comes to prodigious talent, there's always room for one more.


- Barcelona have opened talks with Corinthians over a deal for Pedrinho, says The fee could reach as high as €25 million for the 20-year-old winger, who made his first-team debut only 18 months ago.

- As per the Telegraph, ex-West Ham defender James Collins has been invited to train with Aston Villa, another of his former clubs, while manager Steve Bruce ponders a move for the 35-year-old free agent.