Manchester City backed out of plans to complete a £66.8 million deal for Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong on Thursday, Simon Mullock reports for the Sunday Mirror.
Said to be Pep Guardiola’s number one midfield target to succeed Fernandinho, De Jong has been heavily linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium, with reports going as far as to claim a deal was close.
And according to the Mirror, City had a secret three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Frenkie in London last month, with Guardiola believing the midfielder was Etihad-bound.
However, less than 24 hours before they planned to fly into Amsterdam to formalise a club-record deal for next summer, City chiefs informed Ajax that they were putting the transfer ‘on ice’.
Mullock claims that Guardiola is ‘angry and frustrated’ at this move, which may be related to ongoing Financial Fair Play concerns, as it could mean losing out on yet another target who had seemed close – after the Blues missed out on deals for Dani Alves, Alexis Sanchez, Fred and Jorginho.
City’s hesitance led to Paris Saint-Germain heading to Amsterdam for talks over a deal for De Jong, although the Ligue 1 club have since denied they have a €70 million deal for De Jong, believing Ajax planted the story to try and start an auction for the 21-year-old.
The Mirror believes De Jong is still likely to end up at PSG despite telling friends that he was ready to ditch his childhood dream of playing for Barcelona to link up with Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium. The Parisiens are willing to bump De Jong’s £8,900-a-week wages to £100,000-a-week after tax, but have yet to agree fee with Ajax.