Nigel de Jong’s stint with the Galaxy officially ended Wednesday with the midfielder signing a two-year deal with Galatasaray of the Turkish Super League.
De Jong joined the Galaxy this season after leaving AC Milan in Italy’s Serie A. He was signed in February to a one-year deal with a contract “trigger” to become a Designated Player next season.
De Jong’s brief time with the Galaxy was eventful. Known for his rugged and fearless play in the midfield, de Jong, 31, made 18 appearances for the Galaxy, but also suffered a pair of multi-game suspensions for tackles on Portland’s Darlington Nagbe in April and Blas Perez in July.
The move, although it might hurt the Galaxy in the present, could give the team some much-needed flexibility in the off-season as it looks to replace one or possibly two Designated Player slots.
“We have the greatest respect for Nigel,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “He’s been a terrific addition to our team, he’s a great professional, great teammate and when healthy and given a chance to play in this league, he’s been good. He’s a very good player. We don’t have an educated public that understands what he does. He’s been an important member of our team.”
Arena said Tuesday that de Jong was “pursuing an opportunity with our blessing.”
De Jong was making $500,000 this season. It has been reported that his salary with Galatasaray will be close to $3 million a year. He’s signed through 2018. He went through his first training session with his new club Wednesday.
De Jong is a two-time World Cup veteran for the Netherlands. Aside from AC Milan, he’s also played for Ajax, Hamburg and Manchester City.
He joins a Galatasaray club that’s currently off to a 2-0 start this season.
The move comes at a difficult time for the Galaxy with Gyasi Zardes (foot), Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and Jelle Van Damme (knee) all out, either for the season in Zardes’ case or a couple of weeks, for Gerrard and Van Damme.
Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said he will miss de Jong’s toughness on the field.
“He was a great guy in the locker room and I don’t think you need me to tell you that he’s a great player,” Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said. “He’s a winner. He’s not out there to (nut)meg people and score goals, he’s around there to cover for his teammates and make people around him better.”