Pep Guardiola is furious that Manchester City are on the brink of losing Frenkie De Jong to Paris Saint-Germain after launching a charm offensive to land the Dutch wonderkid.
Guardiola believed Ajax midfielder De Jong was Etihad-bound after conducting a secret three-and-a-half-hour meeting with him in London last month.
MirrorFootball can reveal that City officials were scheduled to fly to Amsterdam on Thursday to complete a deal that would see them pay £66.8million next summer. But less than 24 hours before talks between the two clubs were due to take place, the Premier League champions informed the Dutch giants they wished to put the transfer on ice.
That opened the door for a PSG delegation – led by sporting director Antero Henrique and his Brazilian assistant Maxwell – to gazump Guardiola with a dash to Holland.
The belief in Amsterdam is that City’s financial might has been weakened by recent allegations regarding their position on Financial Fair Play.
UEFA have promised to investigate the club again following claims by Football Leaks that City’s Abu Dhabi owners were financing many of the club’s sponsorship deals themselves and it has been suggested by sources close to Ajax that the Blues are reluctant to commit themselves to any major buys until it is confirmed they are in the clear.
Guardiola is said to be “angry and frustrated” that another top target looks like slipping through his fingers.
Over the past year, City have lost out to PSG, Manchester United and Chelsea for the signatures of Dani Alves, Alexis Sanchez, Fred and Jorginho.
Guardiola felt that his personal intervention with De Jong would win the day, despite rival interest from PSG, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Indeed, the midfielder was so set on working with the Catalan that he told friends he was ready to ditch his childhood dream of plying his trade at the Nou Camp to move to Manchester.
But now he seems destined for Paris.
City have spent the last 12 months searching for a successor for 33-year-old Fernandinho. And after missing out on both Fred and Jorginho, we exclusively revealed in September that De Jong had emerged as their No.1 target.
Ajax were already resigned to losing the Holland international next summer and when City agreed to match their asking price, the deal seemed a formality.
De Jong was hugely impressed when Guardiola invited him to England for talks about his proposed role in the team after gaining permission from Ajax, and on his return he instructed his club to finalise a transfer that would smash the Eredivisie record set in 2017 when Spurs paid Ajax £40m for Davinson Sanchez.
The 21-year-old was shocked when Ajax told him on Wednesday that City’s sporting director Txiki Begiristain had gone cold on the deal.
PSG, urged by their scouting staff to beat City to De Jong’s signature following outstanding Nations League performance against world champions France and Germany, saw a window of opportunity.
They offered to pay De Jong £100,000 a week AFTER tax.
He currently earns £8,900 per week.
It was PSG’s determination to seal the deal now that impressed the midfielder most, as well as the opportunity to play alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
The Parisians still have to conclude a financial agreement with Ajax to get their man but after months of trailing behind City in the race for one of European football’s hottest prospects, the Qatari-owned club have now moved ahead of their Abu Dhabi rivals into pole position.