Dutch international Luuk de Jong has signed for German side Borussia Mönchengladbach for a fee in the region of €15 million, following months of speculation linking the forward with a move to Die Fohlen.
Beginning his career with De Graafschap in 2008, de Jong took just 14 Eredivisie games to attract the attention of bigger Dutch clubs. Having already contributed vital assists and crucial goals – including a spectacular overhead-kick winner against Heracles Almelo in March 2009 – de Jong established himself as one of the country’s brightest young talents, and few were surprised when FC Twente swooped to sign the forward in April 2009.
Two assists on his debut, an 8-0 cup rout of SC Joure, set the tone for a prolific spell at the De Grolsch Veste stadium. Over the next three years, de Jong netted 39 times in just 76 league games – a strike rate of over one goal every other game. His goals powered Twente to the Eredivisie title in 2009-10, and he was the club’s top scorer in the following two seasons.
After a brilliant 2011-12 campaign in which de Jong scored 25 league goals in 32 appearances, Twente manager Steve McClaren and president Joop Munsterman appeared to be resigned to losing their star man. Believing the 21-year-old was headed for the Premier League, McClaren told the Daily Mirror: “Luuk is an English style striker, made for English football. I am just desperate to keep him for one more year, but I realise that will be difficult. Luuk is big, strong, brilliant in the air and scores goals so easily. He has every quality a top class striker needs to have for a big club.”
With many European clubs rumoured to be interested in the Swiss-born striker, Munsterman slapped a hefty €15 million (£11.7 million) price tag on de Jong – a figure that put off some potential suitors, including English side Newcastle United. Having offloaded last season’s top scorer Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund for €17.5 milli0n, Borussia Mönchengladbach had money to spend and needed to invest in a goalscorer.
Die Fohlen had finished in an impressive fourth place in the 2011-12 Bundesliga, and their success and ambition clearly tempted de Jong once the club had met Twente’s €15 million valuation. Indeed, the frontman admitted he would forego personal success at his new club for the benefit of his new team: “I would be happy to give up the [top] scorer’s title if it meant challenging at the top of the table. The club has made the right steps with its transfer. Maybe we can win the league in the next five years. I didn’t sign until 2017 without having any long-term objectives.”
Relieved to have finally completed the signing of de Jong after months of speculation, Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl smiled: “”We are very pleased that it’s now a done deal after all, and that Luuk will be able to travel to our training camp in Tegernsee on Friday. In Luuk, we have secured the services of a very talented striker who already has plenty of international experience under his belt with Twente and the Dutch national side, despite his tender age of 21.”
Recording a strike rate of at least a goal a game for each of the Dutch youth teams he represented at international level, de Jong was handed his senior Holland debut in 2011. He was named in the country’s Euro 2012 squad, but despite the Oranje’s disastrous tournament, was left on the bench for all three group stage games.