Ajax defender De Ligt under Barca's radar

Aveek Chakraborty

Bengaluru, February 19: Ajax defender Matthijs De Ligt has been the talk of the town in the transfer window for quite a time after he expressed his desire to move away from Ajax in the coming season.

Europe's big boys are chasing the 19-year-old Ajax captain who is regarded as the next big thing on the continent. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are all are said to be tracking his progress while Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are believed to have already registered official interest in the £50million-rated centre-back.

But bestowing interest on the player Barcelona too have reportedly joined the chase. After signing his teammate Frenkie de Jong for €70 million in January, the 19-year-old could be the next to swap Amsterdam for Camp Nou and validating the matter, in an interview with Radio Kanal Barcelona, the Catalan sides president Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken about the player.

He said: "We have followed De Ligt for a while. It's true he's a player we like, but BarÇa also have other important players in the squad.

"We will look at more things from March or April. We're delighted to watch him play and admire him, but there's nothing more at the moment."

Barcelona managed to land defender Jeison Murillo on a short-term loan deal and signed 18-year-old French defender Todibo in the January transfer window. But it is understood that still, the Catalan club's aim is to sign a long-term solution and a big profile player to which the Dutch defender perfectly suits the bill.

Barcelona have looked vulnerable defensively this season in the absence of first choice centre-back Umtiti and defender Gerard Pique has been at fault in many of the matches.

The Spanish side are now apparently looking to provide regeneration in the defensive third and it is now believed that their priority is to sign a central defender as cover for the 31-year-old Spaniard.

The club considers De Ligt as the ideal candidate to replace him as he is a technically gifted, ball-playing centre-back who would suit the Catalans' style and help the side leading from the back.

The Dutch youngster, however, won't come cheap as Ajax are currently in a strong negotiating position as the defender's contract expires in June 2021. Any club who hopes to land him apparently has to splash around around €70 million after add-ons and bonuses but with the quality the player possesses, the risk is certainly worth taking.

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