CARSON, Calif. – Nigel de Jong is heading to Los Angeles in the prime of his career and is determined to win titles for the LA Galaxy.
The Galaxy completed the signing of the 31-year-old Dutch midfielder on Tuesday from Italian power AC Milan. The two-time World Cup veteran who has played with Manchester City, Hamburg and Ajax, is the ninth signing of a busy offseason for the Galaxy.
De Jong’s signing completes a process several months in the making between the Galaxy, the player’s representatives and A.C. Milan. After months of work to bring the Dutchman to Los Angeles, De Jong is eager to get acclimated to his new surroundings.
“The process started a couple of months ago when I was contacted by my agent who told me that the Galaxy were interested. It sounded good,” De Jong told LA Galaxy Insider. “I knew that it was going to be a complicated deal because I had just renewed my contract with AC Milan, but I was interested from the start. We worked on the deal because obviously with my career situation, I wasn’t playing.
“I thought that it would be the perfect time for me to go to the States because of my age. Instead of being a little bit older, I’ll be heading over in the best part of my career. That's when I decided that I wanted to go to the Galaxy.”
Known throughout the soccer community for his “take no prisoners” style in the center of the park, the defensive midfielder figures to slide in alongside Steven Gerrard in the Galaxy’s central midfield. A player who can cover ground and shield the back four, the acquisition of De Jong will help the Galaxy shore up a backline that proved to be their undoing a year ago.
“I think Nigel brings us a very experienced player in the center of midfield. He’s a player whose qualities will help the players around him,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Specifically with Gerrard, Keane, [Sebastian] Lletget, [Giovani] Dos Santos and [Gyasi] Zardes will be playing ahead of him. He’s an outstanding defensive midfielder. He has great mobility and can obviously win tackles and distribute the ball quickly. He’s really going to complement the players ahead of him.”
De Jong will shoulder plenty of responsibility throughout the 2016 campaign, but that does not faze a player who is eager to bring another MLS Cup to StubHub Center.
“The LA Galaxy are the Real Madrid or FC Barcelona of the United States. They’re always expected to win especially after the way last year ended; they want to win the MLS Cup again,” said De Jong. “I know that coming into this team; I know what kind of pressure is on the team, the players, and the organization. I have no problem with that. That’s the pressure that exists because the club is so big.
“The main thing now is to fit into the team as quick as possible, so that we can move forward with each other.”