Siem de Jong became Newcastle’s third summer signing this week, putting pen to paper on a six-year deal at St James’ Park. Sports writer Steph Clark spoke to Tyneside’s latest Dutch import after completing his move from Ajax
HE may not be the most high profile Dutchman to arrive in the Premier League this summer, but Siem de Jong has big ambitions at Newcastle United and that includes finishing above his former boss.
De Jong completed a £7.5m move from Ajax late on Tuesday night, ending his nine-year stay at the Amsterdam Arena and following in the footsteps of younger brother, Luuk, who spent the second half of last season on loan at St James’ Park.
The 25-year-old joins a long list of Dutchman to have graced the top flight and he also follows Holland boss Louis van Gaal, who will take over at Manchester United after the World Cup, to England.
Raised by one of Europe’s elite, de Jong has fantastic pedigree and brings a winning mentality to the Magpies’ dressing room having won four consecutive Dutch Eredivisie titles with Ajax, captaining the side to two of those championships.
Theoretically he still has his best years in front of him at 25 and with Champions League experience also on his CV, the attacking midfielder is exactly the signing everyone on Tyneside has been crying out for.
Magpies boss Alan Pardew has been tracking de Jong for some time, something the Swiss-born player revealed was a big reason behind his decision to swap the trophy-laden Amsterdam Arena for St James’ Park, and having tasted plenty of success in his career to date, de Jong admitted he is hungry for more.
“Newcastle had some difficulties in the second half of last season, but I hope we can be better this season and we can aim for the fourth place and for the Champions League,” de Jong said. “That's a goal here and it's a really tough goal, because there's a lot of big clubs in England, but we'll do our best to make it a great season.
“The club has told me about their plans, and that they want to sign some other players and mix them in with the existing players to build up something really strong, that's the goal for the team and for me also.
“We have to aim high, even when I was at Ajax and we were playing in the Champions League, getting out of the group was also a tough goal, but you have to aim high.
“We're building up a good team, with some new players so it will be good to see all the pieces fit into place.”
Newcastle would have to go one better than their fifth place finish in 2011/12 to achieve that, but de Jong is also hoping to outdo his outgoing national coach by finishing above Manchester United.
“I've enjoyed working with him (van Gaal) the times I have and I think he'll do well in England, but hopefully we'll finish above him, but I wish him all the best.”
De Jong narrowly missed out on van Gaal’s World Cup squad because of an injury he sustained towards the end of last season, but he hopes a strong season on Tyneside can put his name in the frame once again.
He said: “Missing out on the World Cup was quite a disappointment, but it was a realistic decision. I hope I can improve my game here and be part of the national team next season, that's also a personal goal for me.
“It was a great period at Ajax and it hurts to leave such a great club, but it was time for the next step in my career. I thought this was a good moment to move and this is a good club for me.
“It's a nice club, obviously my brother played here so he could tell me some things about it and I also spoke to Tim Krul and Vurnon Anita so I had plenty of people to speak to. Newcastle lives and breathes football and that was important for me.”
And while things didn’t work out for Luuk last season, de Jong hopes there might come a time when they can both step out at St James’ Park together.
“Luuk hopes he can have a good season this time and hopefully come back here again one day,” the 25-year-old said.
“I've always wanted to play with him at one time or another, but maybe it's better to start off by yourself and be your own person and then maybe we'll play together in the future.”
De Jong arrives at Newcastle with an impressive scoring record having recorded double figures in three of his four seasons playing first-team football at Ajax.
After Yohan Cabaye’s departure in January, the Magpies relied heavily on Loic Remy, who has since moved on, for goals, but de Jong believes he can make a big contribution playing in the number ten role.
“For me my best position is as an attacking midfielder, a player who comes in the box late as a second striker and helps with the attacking play.
“That's how I scored most of my goals at Ajax, by coming into the box with combinations of passes, or crosses. I hope I can do the same here.
“I don't really set targets, I didn't really do that at Ajax so I won't do that here. I've scored double figures in three or four of my seasons at Ajax, so double figures here? Maybe in all competitions.”