Manchester City have indicated they are prepared to take a calculated risk by not entering into discussions on a new contract for midfielder Nigel de Jong until next summer.
The 26-year-old, who will have only a year left on his current deal at the end of the season, has expressed some frustration in the past that his attempts to secure a better contract have shown no progress. The Dutchman is thought to earn around £55,000-a-week and, despite his significant contribution for manager Roberto Mancini has fallen behind as players have regularly arrived on double that sum.
De Jong has been less of a mainstay this season – appearing in only one Premier League game since his return from injury on 15 October – though City's position yesterday was that they do not conclude contractual business outside of the season. They feel that the club's development obviates the need to go to great lengths to persuade players to stay, as they might in the past. There is no sense that the disparity in salary between De Jong and players such as James Milner and Gareth Barry creates a threat of the midfielder leaving the club.
It remains to be seen whether City, who offered Adam Johnson a new deal last week, will be tempted to tie up a new contract earlier than the summer for a player who offers vital midfield resilience, once the preoccupying Carlos Tevez saga is dealt with.
De Jong, who is believed to be looking for closer to £100,000, is earning less than many others because he arrived at a relatively early stage in City's development under Abu Dhabi ownership. The then manager Mark Hughes moved for him in January 2009 when Scott Parker, now at Tottenham, and Lassana Diarra, seeking a move back to England from Real Madrid, proved impossible to buy. City were in Milan, attempting to secure the Brazilian Kaka from San Siro in an enterprise which failed spectacularly, when De Jong arrived from Hamburg for £18m with the minimum of ceremony.
"There's no update on my contract because talks have stopped," he said several months ago. "Maybe something will happen again when the season starts, but at the moment it is a little frustrating for me. I can't go into details other than to say that I couldn't reach an agreement with the club, so we will have to see what happens in the future.
"I was hoping that it would all be agreed this summer and that hasn't happened. I want to stay at Manchester City because I enjoy being a part of this club but any new contract has to be right for both sides. It has frustrated me but I am a patient man and we will have to see what happens."
De Jong has grounds for some frustration at a time when he sees Tevez command four times his own salary – £198,000 a week – and disappearing to Argentina.
City have a meeting scheduled with Tevez on Monday, at which they are expected to seek a detailed explanation of his unauthorised departure to his homeland.
His representatives did not indicate last night when he was heading back to England and their markedly low profile this week suggests that they realise that the player has little case to make in his own defence when he does finally return to Manchester.
Wayne Bridge's representatives have been told the figure that City have in mind to seal his own departure. There had been hope within the club that a move to Celtic might be secured, but Bridge was uncertain that he wanted to play in the Scottish Premier League.Reuse content