Frenkie de Jong has told FourFourTwo that he was tempted to join Tottenham last summer, but felt he owed Ajax another season of his services.
The 21-year-old, who has won seven caps for the Netherlands, will join Barcelona in July, and will hope to do so after lifting a first Eredivisie title with Ajax.
The Amsterdammers trail PSV Eindhoven by two points in the table, and title glory this term will vindicate the midfielder’s decision to remain at the Johan Cruyff Arena for 2018/19, after being courted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs last summer.
Paris-Saint Germain, Manchester City and Tottenham were all monitoring the Dutch dynamo, who only made 16 league starts last season due to injury and started the campaign in an unfamiliar centre-back role. But the youngster insists he wanted to complete at least one full season for Ajax in his preferred position before moving on.
Speaking exclusively in the May 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out Wednesday, De Jong says of Spurs’ interest: “The moment wasn’t right. I wasn’t finished at Ajax, as I hadn’t yet played a full season in my own position.
“I was also injured in that period, so I was thinking, ‘Not yet’. I felt I should stay for another year at Ajax, or perhaps longer.
“I considered their [Spurs’] offer long and hard. I see Tottenham as a very stable club, and they are only getting better. They give young players a chance and I see Mauricio Pochettino as a manager who really improves young players. I like the kind of football they are playing. I think it would have suited my game.”
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Instead, De Jong will become the latest in a distinguished line of players – including Cruyff, Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids – to have joined Barça after starring for Ajax, and the prodigy admits it was an opportunity he couldn’t afford to turn down.
“I’d always wanted to play for Barcelona,” he says. “The money they were prepared to pay Ajax [€75m, rising to €86m] showed me how serious they were. I felt I had to grab the opportunity, because maybe it wouldn’t come around again.
“Of course, [the fee] doesn’t mean I’ll automatically play from the start. But everything about Barcelona is beautiful. My family agreed I had to go for it. I’ll do everything in my power to succeed there.’”
Read the full interview with Frenkie de Jong in the May 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, in which we hail Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Marcelo Bielsa’s transformative impacts at Manchester United and Leeds United. Plus, we reveal the top 51 players in the Football League, ask former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole your questions, remember when Bobby Moore played against England, visit Turkey to watch Istanbul Basaksehir take on Fenerbahce, and reminisce with Kevin Keegan about his time at Newcastle.
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