CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy completed a whirlwind offseason on Wednesday with the acquisition of Dutch defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong.
Since being eliminated from the postseason more than four months ago, Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena has worked tirelessly to retool a squad that failed to live up to their lofty expectations. Now as the team prepares for a run in the CONCACAF Champions League and another MLS season, the Galaxy’s roster appears to have finally taken shape.
After the departures of key contributors like Juninho, Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts, it was imperative for Arena to replenish his squad, and finally, with De Jong’s signature secured, the Galaxy boss is confident that his team can compete for titles.
“Simply, we had holes to fill. We had positions that needed to be strengthened. All the players that we’ve added along with Nigel fill the voids that we had,” said Arena. “We’ve worked to make our back line better, our play in the goal, get a little more experience in the midfield, and speed as well with the addition of Ema Boateng. All these players are going to fill the areas that we needed to get better.”
For Arena’s grand plan to succeed, the Galaxy will rely heavily on the 31-year-old hard-nosed defensive midfielder to allow the Galaxy’s bevy of attacking players the freedom to keep the opposition on their heels. Once De Jong arrives, he figures to be positioned alongside Steven Gerrard in a defensive position that should allow the Englishman the freedom to roam forward.
The Netherlands international is keen to adapt to his new surroundings and contribute immediately
Fueled with a familiarity of his new home, De Jong is determined to assure that the Galaxy's busy offseason leads to trophies at the end of the year.
“My motivation to come to the U.S. started several years ago when I ruptured my Achilles' tendon, and I had my rehab with Athletes Performance at StubHub Center,” De Jong recalled. “Since then, I was always interested in coming to the Galaxy because I saw their training facilities and the possibilities for an athlete to develop himself even when he’s over 30 years old.
“That was the motivation for me, also, the different culture than Europe. I always wanted to play in America because of the unique sports culture that they have there.”
De Jong joins the Galaxy with an illustrious resume that includes stints with Ajax, Hamburg, Manchester City and most recently AC Milan. After winning a Premier League title, De Jong headed to Italy where he had three solid years with Milan before playing just six matches during the 2015-16 campaign.
Now entering the next phase of his illustrious career, De Jong is motivated to do what he can to bring another title to the Galaxy.
“If you see the last couple years of my career, on the pitch you can see that I’m 100 percent and dedicated to the game no matter what club that I play for. I take no prisoners, but I always play with respect,” De Jong said. “I do my best for the team. At the end of the day, it’s about winning. No matter how you play, it’s always about three points. I think that I’m a strong character on the pitch, and I’m heading to Los Angeles to win.”