Paris Saint-Germain are increasingly optimistic that they will beat Barcelona and Manchester City to the signing of Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong this summer, according to ESPN FC sources close to the French champions.
The Netherlands international is wanted by a host of Europe’s top clubs but PSG, Barca and City have emerged as the 21-year-old’s three main options with Pep Guardiola’s men a distant third to the Ligue 1 giants and the Catalans.
One source said the guaranteed key role on offer to De Jong, the team’s attractive style of play under Thomas Tuchel, as well as the prospect of playing alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, have all combined to influence him in PSG’s favour.
However, all sources are unanimous that it is the guarantee of a starring role at Parc des Princes above all else that has most swayed De Jong as neither Barca nor City can convincingly match it.
Another source added that PSG are in almost daily contact with De Jong’s agent Ali Dursun to convince the pair of the player’s importance to the club’s future vision.
Rabiot’s impending exit has been particularly decisive, agreed the sources, as not only does the France international leaving create space alongside Marco Verratti for De Jong, the money PSG set aside for Rabiot‘s contract extension also takes care of the Dutchman’s financial demands.
De Jong will not be arriving until at least the summer as he has made it clear he will not be leaving Ajax this month.
PSG’s financial fair play situation with UEFA remains unclear but an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the handling of PSG’s case by European football’s governing body is pending and the capital club are confident that their status will be clear in time to land De Jong this summer.
Regardless of the progress made with De Jong, the sources said that PSG remain in the market to sign a defensive midfielder this January after Tuchel’s pleas with the club’s hierarchy convinced them that they must act to maximise the chances of domestic and continental success.
De Jong is aware that a new midfielder may well arrive this month, but PSG will only invest in somebody who can play a significant role beyond the end of this season and the Ajax man has assurances that his promised starting role will remain untouched.
The sources said that PSG have the unenviable dual task this month of convincing a club to sell them a defensive midfielder and persuading that player to accept a medium to long-term squad role but a key one until the end of this campaign.
Speaking in Qatar recently, Verratti said he and his teammates would like some backup in midfield to arrive this month.
“As a club, we want to sign only the best players, be it in midfield, defence, or attack,” the Italy international said. “They are always welcome here as we know that winning requires the best players.
“If the club decides to buy a No. 6, we will be happy — we do not have many midfielders.”