Club America again monitoring PSV striker Luuk de Jong as they look to bolster attack
MEXICO CITY -- The potential signing of Dutch attacker Luuk de Jong for Club America has created plenty of intrigue among fans of the Liga MX squad. Following a trip to Mexico City by De Jong's father and manager, speculation has intensified.
Marco Timmer, a journalist for Voetbal International and a PSV beat reporter, interviewed De Jong last January, when the first wave of rumors placed the former Newcastle United striker with Club America.
"When I [talked to him], I confronted him with the interest from Club America," said Timmer, referring to his January interview in Orlando, where PSV was training over the winter break. "His answers were in line with what I expected. He was pleased with Club America, he found out a little bit about the team and he knew it was a big club that wanted him," he continued.
Before leaving to take the Director of Football job at Everton, Marcel Brands held a similar post at PSV. The executive nixed the initial transfer deal for De Jong, alleging the Eredivisie giants were short on players up front after the sale or Jurgen Locadia to Brighton & Hove Albion.
"Brands told me that Club America has never lost its interest since then," Timmer said. Indeed, the interest to sign the star forward has not wavered after the initial approach last winter.
Then, De Jong was barely coming off an extended drought. The player did not score in the Dutch league from March to November of 2017. During the aforementioned period, Timmer describes a rough period in which the player answered the same set of questions after most every game.
After the sale of Locadia, however, De Jong grouped with Mexico international Hirving Lozano and Marco van Ginkel up front and caught fire. De Jong finished the season with 12 goals, third-best on the team, and has drummed up interest from other clubs around Europe.
"He's [27 years old]. He's played in the German Bundesliga, and the English Premier League. I think he understands his value is best in Holland, but he's also won everything here. Perhaps it's time he goes abroad again," Timmer said of De Jong.
The current negotiations between Club America and De Jong have not yet resulted in a contract, a situation that has prompted the Mexican team to set a deadline for any signing. Santiago Banos, the Mexican team's man in charge of signings, has stated the Netherlands international is just one of the options up front for the club.
"The priority is to bring the best player we can and our two first choices are going to the World Cup, so we have to wait. We're trying to advance and close out one of the options we have on the table," Banos told ESPN Mexico on Tuesday.
Though there are other players evidently on the docket, Timmer believes not signing De Jong would be a mistake, as his playing characteristics are more than apt for Liga MX.
"I think Luuk with his length and strength, his qualities to have possession in the box and in the air with a very good header -- he'll do very well," Timmer said.
The thought of pairing him with the likes of Oribe Peralta and Jeremy Menez up front will not create problems for Miguel Herrera in Timmer's view, as De Jong is a player who can occupy any role up front. "What I appreciate most from Luuk is that when he's with a good team, he will never not do his job. He can drop back and defend. He's a great team player," Timmer said.
Though confidence on the Dutch side of things is high in regards to De Jong joining Club America, Banos was clear about the negotiations being ongoing.
"[The Dutch press] have been saying that for months and it's just hearsay. We have made approaches yes, but we haven't talked contracts or salary, because [De Jong] is not our only option, we have to wait a couple of more weeks," Banos said.
At the same time, Timmer is conservative as to where De Jong will land this summer, saying the attacker has a contract with PSV that runs through 2020.
"It's something I can't -- it's difficult to predict that. But, when his father and his manager are going to Mexico, that's some kind of signal, I guess -- don't you think? America is a big club and Mexico is a beautiful country. The money is better in Mexico, so if he really wants his adventure this is his chance."
Eric Gomez is an editor for ESPN's One Nación. You can follow him on Twitter: @EricGomez86.