Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong acquired by LA Galaxy
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 04, 2016 09:51 AM
FILE - In this Jan. 18 2015, file photo, AC Milan's Nigel de Jong controls the ball against Atalanta during an Italian Serie A soccer match at San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. The LA Galaxy have acquired the Dutch midfielder on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The LA Galaxy acquired Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong on Wednesday, completing their third high-profile international move of the winter with the signing of the two-time World Cup veteran on a free transfer.
De Jong spent the past four seasons with AC Milan, serving as captain and making 79 appearances since 2012. He terminated his contract with the club Monday by mutual consent.
The 31-year-old De Jong is a standout defensive midfielder adding even more toughness to the Galaxy, who entered training camp last month with a renewed focus on their own end. The club hopes de Jong will be a strong midfield partner with Steven Gerrard, providing defensive cover for the English star's adventurous offensive play.
"Nigel is an experienced midfielder who will help the players around him get better," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "He will add qualities on the field that can strengthen our team in all areas."
The Galaxy also signed two big-name international defenders last month, acquiring England's Ashley Cole and Belgium's Jelle Van Damme. Both are reporting to the Galaxy this week.
De Jong made just five appearances this season for his Italian club despite a contract extension. He played for Manchester City from 2009-12 and the Bundesliga's Hamburg from 2006-09.
De Jong began his pro career at home with Ajax and also played for the Netherlands in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He earned international notoriety for breaking a leg of American midfielder Stuart Holden during a 2010 exhibition, kicking Spain's Xavi Alonso in the chest during the 2010 World Cup final and breaking a leg of Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa that October.
The Galaxy parted ways with former U.S. international defender Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Juninho in the offseason, retooling their roster around captain Robbie Keane in the wake of last season's disappointing early exit from the playoffs.
Arena also added Mike Magee, Jeff Larentowicz and new goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the offseason.
The Galaxy begin their MLS season March 6 against New England.