The LA Galaxy have reportedly identified the player they want to replace the recently departed Juninho in central midfield.
The 26-year-old Brazilian, who originally joined the Galaxy from Sao Paulo in 2010, proved instrumental in helping the club win three MLS Cup titles over the past five seasons before being sold to Mexican side Club Tijuana last month for around $1.5 million [£1.02 million].
The Galaxy are now looking to use the salary cap relief created by the deep-lying playmaker’s departure to bring in a more defensive-minded partner for Steven Gerrard in the centre of the park, and according to both gianlucadiomarzio.com and Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep, have turned their attention to AC Milan’s Nigel de Jong.
Nicknamed “The Destroyer”, the tough-tackling Dutchman has only played six times for Milan so far this season due to a series of niggling injuries, and despite signing a contract extension until 2018 last June, is believed to have been deemed surplus to requirements.
The former Manchester City man was recently linked with a move to high-flying Leicester City, who are keen to bring in winter reinforcements to help boost their chances of a top four Premier League finish, but reports have since suggested that those rumours are wide of the mark [h/t Leicester Mercury].
Instead, it looks as if the 80-times capped Netherlands international could soon become the latest big-name European player to head across the Atlantic, with the Galaxy already said to have entered talks with Milan over a deal for his signature.
LA would have to use Targeted Allocation Money to buy down the 31-year-old’s salary, but all 20 teams were provided with new funds last month to give each a combined $1.6 million [£1.1 million] to use over the next two seasons.
They may not be done spending there either, as De Jong's former City teammate Joleon Lescott is also claimed to be on the verge of leaving Aston Villa for the StubHub Center, just a little over four months after joining the claret and blues from Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion [h/t gianlucadiomarzio.com].