The Manchester City manager has previous when it comes to his admiration of the Netherlands international and actually tried to bring De Jong to the Etihad years ago
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The Manchester City manager angered some prominent figures within the ranks of his former side when he attempted to persuade De Jong against moving to the Camp Nou and to opt to try his hand in the Premier League instead.
The midfielder was one of the most highly sought figures from the Ajax side of 2018/19 that helped guide the Dutch outfit to the last four of the Champions League. Just about every major European side were interested in securing De Jong’s signature, including City and French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
Despite Guardiola’s best efforts, De Jong announced that he would don the famous red and blue of Barcelona from 2019/20 onwards – much to the delight of Camp Nou officials. However, then-manager Ernesto Valverde was left feeling aggrieved over the way City and specifically Guardiola handled themselves in the race for De Jong’s services.
“You can’t call a player who already has a contract,” Valverde explained. “It isn’t my code of conduct to call a player who is under contract with another club. If I do it, I won’t say it. If the player says it then it is his problem.
“I have nothing to say about it. Everybody has a different way of doing things. This club acts in a certain way. And I have nothing to say about it.”
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Things have hardly been plain-sailing for the Dutchman since he arrived in Catalonia, with reports of recent tension between De Jong and boss Xavi Hernandez. The 25-year-old midfielder refused to acknowledge his manager when he was substituted against Rayo Vallecano last month.
Rumours of an imminent exit for De Jong three years after his arrival in Spain have been rife in recent weeks. Most reports have touted the ex-Ajax star with a switch to Manchester United, though it now appears he could be on his way to local rivals City – to finally link up with Guardiola.
United’s inability to offer the Netherlands international Champions League football looks set to be a huge sticking point which will allow City to swoop in and hijack the deal. Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo report how Bernardo Silva could even be used as a makeweight in the potential deal.
Guardiola’s midfield is already going to be one man lighter once Fernandinho calls time on his City stay in the summer and De Jong does have the ability to dictate the pace of games from a deeper position much like the Brazilian veteran.