Nigel de Jong is leaving the LA Galaxy, signing a two-year contract with Turkish club Galatasaray.
The Galaxy were desperately looking to unload the midfielder prior to the close of the European transfer window to improve the club's salary-cap situation.
De Jong was playing under a contract that would have turned into a guaranteed designated player deal for the 2017 and 2018 seasons if he would have played a predetermined number of games for the Galaxy this year, sources tell Goal USA's Ives Galarcep.
The Galaxy had no interest in having De Jong be a DP for the next two seasons, a status that would earn De Jong $6 million over the two years.
The move to Galatasaray makes sense for De Jong as he will reunite with current Galatasaray manager and former Ajax coach Jan Olde Riekerink, who was in charge at Ajax during De Jong's formative years in the Dutch club's youth academy setup. Galatasaray's current squad also boasts De Jong's long-time former international teammate Wesley Snjeider.
However, unloading De Jong is a risky move for the Galaxy in the short term because the close of the MLS transfer window on Aug. 4 means the club can't go on the open market to find a replacement, and will be limited to free-agent players before the MLS roster freeze on Sept. 15. That is assuming the club has salary cap space available for such an addition.
Losing De Jong without a viable defensive-midfield replacement will also put a serious dent into the Galaxy's quest for a sixth MLS Cup title. They are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference standings, with nine wins, 14 draws and four losses.
De Jong: NBA star Charles Barkley was my idol since I was a child, that's why I have chosen number 34. pic.twitter.com/QKB9HgnFl6— Galatasaray EN (@Galatasaray) August 31, 2016
But letting De Jong go could be beneficial in the long term for the Galaxy.
A DP contract for De Jong would have meant having to unload two current DPs in order to leave room to sign a new one in 2017. With Steven Gerrard expected to retire after this season, Robbie Keane and Gio Dos Santos would remain as potential DPs for 2017, though Keane is in the final year of his current contract and it remains unclear whether he will re-sign.
The Galaxy had been linked to a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the summer before the Swedish star signed with Manchester United, and such maneuvers could be made in advance of an attempt to sign another high-profile player in the summer of 2017.
Ives Galarcep contributed to this report