Frenkie de Jong wanted to join Manchester City more than Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain, De Telegraaf journalist Marcel van der Kraan has sensationally claimed.
The 21-year-old has agreed to join Barcelona from Ajax in the summer, with City and PSG both missing out on one of Europe’s most in-demand young players.
However, Van der Kraan told the Sky Sports News’ Transfer Talk Podcast that it was Guardiola and City that De Jong wanted, but a move was not possible – most likely due to Financial Fair Play concerns at the Etihad.
“De Jong had made his mind up at an early stage,” said Van der Kraan. “He wanted to go to one club which was Manchester City because they had a manager who he always believed in and who he thinks is one of the best in the world.
“[Netherlands head coach] Ronald Koeman recommended the player to Guardiola saying ‘If you want a great midfielder who can help your team to do the tiki-taka and build it up from the back this is your man’.
“De Jong had a meeting with Guardiola but at that stage it was a bit far away.
“Ajax always gave him permission in the winter time to speak to a few managers including PSG’s Thomas Tuchel.
“But if Man City had not been bothered by their own internal issues – and I’m looking at Financial Fair Play – he would’ve gone there.
“When that was not possible, PSG stepped straight in and wanted him and went up to a fee of €75m and the player agreed terms.
“However, Marc Overmars [Ajax director of football] – the wheeler dealer of Dutch football – knew there was bigger fish in the market and if there was a deal significantly bigger than they’d do that.
“Barcelona came in at the last moment, smashed it by another €15m and Frankie says ‘Okay, I’m off to Barcelona’.”
It’s not the sort of news City fans would want to hear – the club missing out on an elite young talent that apparently wanted the move – but Pep Guardiola is sure to have other targets in mind for this summer.