The LA Galaxy announced earlier today that they’ve signed former Netherlands international Nigel de Jong.
The 31 year old holding midfielder, who previously lined up for Ajax, Manchester City, and AC Milan, is the latest high-profile signing for the Galaxy. He joins the likes of Ashley Cole, who signed last month, and current squad members Steven Gerrard, Giovanni dos Santos, and club captain Robbie Keane.
De Jong, who cancelled his contract with Milan last week, will not be a Designated Player, and will have his wages covered with Targeted Allocation Money, a new form of MLS funny money introduced last year. The team is waiting on the arrival of De Jong’s International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa.
“Nigel is an experienced midfielder who will help the players around him get better,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “He will add qualities on the field that can strengthen our team in all areas. We look forward to Nigel coming to Los Angeles and joining our club.”
De Jong leaves Europe as one of the top defensive midfielders in the game. He helped guide Manchester City to both a Premier League title and an FA Cup, and was part of the 2003-04 Ajax team that won the Eredivisie. De Jong was instrumental in the Netherlands’ World Cup success in recent years, playing a key role in their appearance in the Final in 2010 and their third place finish in 2014.
He also comes to LA with a somewhat ignominious reputation as a butcher. He broke Stuart Holden’s leg in 2010 during an international friendly between the Netherlands and the USMNT, which sidelined him for two years and likely marked the beginning of the end of his playing career. He also famously buried his studs in Xabi Alonso’s chest during the 2010 World Cup Final; the incident, and the fact that he escaped punishment, remains one of the most controversial incidents in recent World Cup history. His combative style earned him the nickname Der Rasenmäher (or “The Lawnmower”) during his time at Hamburg, and just last December L’Equipe named De Jong the most violent footballer in the world.
Still, the combination of de Jong and Gerrard will probably give LA the strongest midfield in MLS. Add in Cole and Jelle Van Damme in the back, and Keane and Dos Santos up top, and the Galaxy are very clearly, on paper at least, the team to beat in MLS in 2016.