CARSON, Calif. — There were some missing faces at LA Galaxy training on Tuesday morning, including Nigel de Jong, who is reportedly finalizing a move to Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray.
Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena confirmed a transfer is in the works, and that de Jong is in Turkey finalizing the deal.
“Nigel is pursuing an opportunity, with our blessing,” Arena told reporters after training Tuesday.
De Jong, 31, joined the Galaxy in February after a long career in Europe with Ajax, Hamburg, Manchester City and AC Milan, as well as 81 caps for the Dutch National Team. De Jong has made 18 league appearances for LA this season.
The Galaxy admitted that losing the defensive midfielder after just half of a season is tough to swallow.
“We have the greatest respect for Nigel,” said Arena. “He’s been a terrific addition to our team, he’s a great professional, great teammate. When healthy and given a chance to play in this league, he’s been good. His game against Vancouver the other night was, I thought, exceptional.”
“He’s not a guy we wanted to lose,” Mike Magee said. “I don’t think you need me to tell you that he’s a great player. We just gotta move on. Hopefully it’s the best situation for him and his family. I hope he’s making 20 million a year in Turkey. I’ll miss him for sure”
Defender AJ DeLaGarza reflected on the impact de Jong had not only on the Galaxy, but on teams they faced as well.
“Just that force in the middle,” said DeLaGarza on what the Galaxy lose without de Jong. “Not that teams were scared of him, but it made them think twice about going to the middle. We know he can win tackles and distribute the ball. He’s a veteran that’s good on the field and a good person in the locker room.”
If the deal goes through before the Turkish transfer window closes on Thursday, Arena will have to adjust his lineup to reflect the move, something that may not be ideal, but not too worrying for the Galaxy boss. LA hosts Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night at StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“We do have some depth,” Arena said. “We don’t have any Nigel de Jongs here, but we have other players who can play in that position.”
“He’s a winner," Magee said. "Galatasaray, if that’s where he’s going, they’re getting a hell of a player.”