“In my mind, I have had the following list for a long time: Ajax-Arsenal-Barcelona, call it the Marc Overmars route,” De Jong told Voetbal International.
“But yes, if you can go directly to Barcelona, then you are right where you want to be. Faster than you ever dared to dream.”
The nine-cap international, who attracted interest from a host of top European clubs, including Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, said he’d always been a fan of Barcelona but said he’d also admired the Gunners.
“The football that [Barcelona] has been playing for years, the players that have been here, that still are here… Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, I watched that midfield” he continued.
“And then there is Lionel Messi, the very best in the world, my idol.
“Camp Nou, the stadium. Add that all together and it’s not so complicated that many young boys choose Barcelona or Real Madrid as their favourite club.
“So did I, although I actually thought Arsenal was pretty beautiful in the past.”
The north London outfit is in need of reinforcements in midfield after Aaron Ramsey was allowed to leave on a free transfer to Serie A champions Juventus at the end of last season.
Unai Emery’s team are operating on a reduced budget, believed to be £45 million ($56m), and may have been out of the race for De Jong’s signature as a result.
They are now being linked with a move for Southampton’s Mario Lemina, who admitted he was looking to move on from St. Mary’s.