AC Milan midfielder Nigel de Jong admits it was flattering to be linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, claiming he was proud to have attracted interest from Louis van Gaal.
The Daily Express reports that the 29-year-old was rumoured to be on the new Red Devils boss' radar after impressing the veteran Dutch coach with his performances at the World Cup in Brazil.
Van Gaal was allegedly keen to lure De Jong to Old Trafford during the transfer window, and despite his connections with local rivals Manchester City was open to the idea of a return to the Premier League.
Manchester United were believed to have reached agreement with AC Milan over a £10 million fee for the player, but decided against pursuing the midfield enforcer after securing the signature of fellow Holland international Daley Blind from Ajax in a £14 million deal.
Blind's versatility played an integral part in persuading Van Gaal to opt for him over De Jong, with the Eredivisie youngster capable of playing in a variety of different positions, including the defensive midfield role that the former Citizens star would've been recruited for.
De Jong spent three successful seasons in England at the Etihad Stadium before moving to Italy in a cut-price £3 million deal in the summer of 2012. His fine form in Serie 'A' and commanding performances in Brazil have helped raise the player's valuation again, prompting the alleged interest from Manchester United.
But, despite the surprise deal never coming to fruition the Milan man insists he can still take positives from attracting admiring glances from the high-profile manager.
Nigel de Jong quote:
"If many people like him respect me and recognise what I am doing, then I can only be proud." he said.
It's not yet clear whether Manchester United will renew their interest in De Jong when the transfer window reopens in January, but with a number of other midfield targets like AS Roma star Kevin Strootman already reportedly on the radar the Dutchman's chance of negotiating a big-money move back to England might've already passed him by.