The secret over Frenkie de Jong’s future was finally put to an end yesterday, with Barcelona winning the race to sign the starlet and confirming the same, adding that the Ajax sensation would join them in the summer for an initial £65 million , with a further £9 million in bonuses.
The 21-year-old was one of the priority’s in Manchester City’s wish-list of midfielders to succeed the ageing but vital Fernandinho, but more or less due to Ajax’s high valuation, which Pep Guardiola and the Cityzens were unwilling match, saw the club fall behind in the race, with Barcelona eventually edging out PSG after the signing saga become a two-horse race.
But at the beginning, City held a huge interest in the Holland international, and before transfer fees came in the way, the player even spoke to Pep after City made an approach, which De Jong himself revealed. “I spoke with Guardiola about a move to Man City,” De Jong told NOS. “Clubs all try to convince you when they want you. I am happy and proud that they did so much to get me.”
De Jong added that Barcelona had always been his “dream club”, and gave an explanation for why he eventually chose the Camp Nou post much deliberation. “Barcelona have always been a dream club for me. The fact that they were so serious about getting me and that I have a good chance of getting playing time made the decision a bit easier.
“I already watched Barcelona as a kid and then when I was a bit more aware of the game you had the Guardiola era with all their successes. That turned me into an even bigger fan. I have always been a big fan of Messi, although I liked the entire team.”
De Jong was always likely to choose Barcelona over other suitors, for it was no secret how much he loved the Catalans. Only the allure of working under Pep could have changed the midfielders’ mind, which was not to be. Which means that City are still looking for a new midfielder to replace their ageing Brazilian warhorse, with the likes of Ruben Neves, Allan and Tanguy Ndombele all linked to the Etihad Stadium next summer.