De Jong will move to the Camp Nou in the summer after the Catalan giants agreed a €75 million deal with Ajax in January.
Rated as one of the world’s best young midfielders, the Dutchman was chased by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
However, speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, the 21-year-old revealed Spurs made a move for him last summer.
He said: “The moment wasn’t right. I wasn’t finished at Ajax, as I hadn’t yet played a full season in my own position.
“I was also injured in that period, so I was thinking, ‘Not yet’. I felt I should stay for another year at Ajax, or perhaps longer.
“I considered their [Spurs’] offer long and hard. I see Tottenham as a very stable club, and they are only getting better. They give young players a chance and I see Mauricio Pochettino as a manager who really improves young players. I like the kind of football they are playing. I think it would have suited my game.”
After sealing his move to Barcelona, though, De Jong can’t wait to get started for the Blaugrana.
“I’d always wanted to play for Barcelona,” he added. “The money they were prepared to pay Ajax [€75m, rising to €86m] showed me how serious they were. I felt I had to grab the opportunity, because maybe it wouldn’t come around again.
“Of course, [the fee] doesn’t mean I’ll automatically play from the start. But everything about Barcelona is beautiful. My family agreed I had to go for it. I’ll do everything in my power to succeed there.”
The Argentina international was left on the bench for an hour as Valverde tried to give his star man a break with next week’s clash against second-placed Atletico Madrid followed by a Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United.
But they were heading for a first league defeat since November when they squandered a 2-0 lead to be 4-2 down in the 90th minute.
Messi drilled home a rasping free-kick before Suarez’s low, left-footed half-volley from a corner with three seconds remaining crept inside the post.
It ensured they hold an eight-point advantage over Atleti, who beat Girona 2-0 earlier in the evening, ahead of next weekend’s meeting.
Check out the video below to see Messi score his sixth free-kick in La Liga this season.
Atletico play Barca at the Camp Nou on Saturday and were given fresh hope of a resurgence when struggling Villarreal, inspired by the brilliant Santi Cazorla, led the Catalans 4-2 going into the final minute.
But Messi, who had started on the bench, drove in a free-kick in the 90th and in the 93rd, Suarez fired in a devastating half-volley to earn Barca a 4-4 draw and an unlikely point.
Combined with Atletico’s earlier 2-0 victory over Girona, the result means the gap at the top is reduced to eight points ahead of this weekend’s top of the table meeting but Ernesto Valverde’s side celebrated Suarez’s goal like it was a winner.
“In the end it is only a point but there is a certain feeling after coming back from two goals down in the last minute,” Valverde said.
Cazorla, meanwhile, sank to his knees, a chance spurned for Villarreal to pull four points clear of the relegation zone, with Celta Vigo, now only two behind, still to play Huesca on Wednesday.
They had come from two down, as Samuel Chukwueze and Karl Toko Ekambi cancelled out early goals from Philippe Coutinho and Malcom. Vicente Iborra and Carlos Bacca looked to have sealed an incredible win, only for Messi and Suarez to intervene.
The pair have now scored 51 goals between them in the league this season, just one shy of the total managed by Real Madrid.
“The spirit we showed at the end, to refuse to give in, to come back in the last minute – we showed that we want to win this league,” said Suarez.
Rested along with Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic, it seemed Barcelona would not need Messi as Coutinho tapped in a pass by Malcom, who then headed in Arturo Vidal’s cross for a 2-0 lead after 16 minutes.
But Villarreal sprung into life, revived by Chukwueze, who pulled one back seven minutes later. A sumptuous flick by Iborra launched the counter-attack and Cazorla sent the striker clear. Chukwueze’s shot struck the post but cannoned back to him and this time, he guided it into the far corner.
Any control Barcelona had increasingly gave way to chaos, particularly on the break, where Villarreal broke through almost at will. Toko Ekambi’s equaliser shortly after half-time looked like a fluke but perhaps he meant it.
He tore down the right wing and cut inside, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen stepping out to block what he expected to be a cutback. Instead, Toko Ekambi stabbed the ball inside the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
Messi warmed up and then came on in the 61st minute but it was Villarreal that pulled away. A minute later, Iborra nipped onto Manu Morlanes’ pass and prodded it home before Bacca made it four with 10 minutes left.
Cazorla was again the instigator, his curled pass creating the chance, as Bacca skipped round Ter Stegen and slid in for what seemed like the win.
Instead, Alvaro Gonzalez was sent off for a second yellow card in the 86th minute and Messi lashed a free-kick in off the post to give Barca hope.
When Suarez drove in his thundering half-volley from the edge of the box, there were four seconds of the three added minutes remaining. Cazorla dropped down as Barca’s players ran to the corner.
Atletico Madrid were putting the finishing touches to their victory at the Wanda Metropolitano when Barcelona kicked off but they had to wait until the 76th minute for Diego Godin’s opener against Girona.
They had VAR to thank too as the Argentinian’s header was only allowed to stand after Antoine Griezmann had initially been ruled offside. Griezmann’s lob added a second in injury-time.