Barcelona midfielder de Jong was keen on playing under Pep Guardiola, reveals Dutch journalist
What's the story?
Barcelona's €75 million signing, Frenkie de Jong, had previously made up his mind to join current Premier League champions Manchester City to play under the tutelage of the shrewd manager Pep Guardiola, claims Marcel van der Kraan, the Chief Sports Officer of Dutch daily De Telegraaf.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said that the Dutch prodigy was given permission by Ajax to talk with Guardiola, before Barcelona swooped in with a mega deal to lure the player on a five-year contract that will now keep him at the Nou Camp till the summer of 2024.
In case you didn't know...
de Jong was signed by the Dutch giants for a mere £260 k in 2015 from fellow Eredivisie side Willem II. The 21-year-old has broken into the Netherlands national team and has been a regular starter since his debut in June last year.
He was linked with a host of top European clubs, but FC Barcelona ended up winning the race to his signature.
The heart of the matter...
Guardiola was in pursuit of the Ajax star, having missed out on the now Chelsea player Jorginho in the summer transfer window.
Van der Kraan, who works for De Telegraaf, a newspaper which has close ties with Ajax, revealed in the Sky Sports Transfer Talk Podcast that de Jong thinks very highly of the Spanish manager and had made up his mind at one point to join the Cityzens.
"De Jong had made his mind up at an early stage. He wanted to go to one club which was Manchester City because they had a manager who he always believed in and who he thinks is one of the best in the world."
He also mentioned that PSG almost signed him by making a huge €75 million bid, but because the Catalan giants made a last-gasp bid of €75m with a further €11m in add-ons, the director Marc Overmars gave the nod to the player.
"PSG went up to a fee of €75m and the player agreed terms."
"Barcelona came in at the last moment, smashed it by another €15m and Frankie says 'Okay, I'm off to Barcelona'."
While de Jong has joined Barcelona, Guardiola continues to search for a worthy replacement for his midfield general Fernandinho.
In the meantime, Manchester City face Newcastle United in their league fixture as they aim to keep the pressure on the league leaders Liverpool.