Barcelona up against one major club to sign Matthijs de Ligt
Barcelona hold the advantage over Juventus in the race to sign Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, according to reports.
The 19-year-old has emerged as one of the most sought-after players on the market this season and has previously been linked with Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
De Ligt will captain his side in their Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash against Juventus in Amsterdam on Wednesday, and Goal reports that directors from the Italian club will be present to evaluate the centre-back and possibly hold talks about a potential deal.
However, competition for the Netherlands international is fierce and Barça are understood to be leading the race having already secured a £65 million deal for De Ligt’s Ajax team-mate Frenkie de Jong.
Juventus will not give up easily, though, and consider a new centre-back a priority for their summer transfer activity.
The Italians are understood to be willing to fork out a large sum to bring the Dutchman to Italy, and could be prepared to spend £60 million on a player they consider the ideal candidate to strengthen their defence.
Juve will also take encouragement from De Ligt’s recent comments in the Italian press.
“[A move to Juventus] could happen, but there are others who are also interested,” De Ligt told Tuttosport (opens in new tab).
“We'll see at the right time. At the moment I'm fully focused on Ajax and my agent [Mino] Raiola is taking care of the rest. Also, De Jong hasn't spoken to me about a move to Barcelona.
“I really admire [Giorgio] Chiellini, he's a very strong centre-back and one of the best ever. I also appreciate [Leonardo] Bonucci. They are two of the best centre-backs in Europe and two examples to follow for a young player like me.”
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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.