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Juventus will reportedly consider alternatives to Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, with the Italian champions said to be concerned they will be priced out of signing the defender.

According to Romeo Agresti of Goal, while there is interest in the Dutch international from the Bianconeri, they are unsure about parting with the kind of money that would make a deal feasible. Ajax want in excess of €50 million (£43 million) before agreeing to sell their star defender, it’s added.

Juventus are said to have been ready to rival the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona in pursuit of the centre-back, with talks reportedly held between the Serie A side and De Ligt’s agent Mino Raiola.

However, with the deal looking like it will be a costly one, the Bianconeri appear to be putting some contingency plans in place.

“One option is believed to be Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic, with the Serbia international having impressed for La Viola so far this season,” said Agresti. “This is not the first time Juve have considered signing the 21-year-old, as Milenkovic’s name was brought up during their negotiations over Marko Pjaca’s move to Florence over the summer.”

FLORENCE, ITALY - NOVEMBER 03: Nikola Milenkovic of ACF Fiorentina in action during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and AS Roma at Stadio Artemio Franchi on November 3, 2018 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

While Milenkovic is clearly a talent and a player with great potential, his emergence hasn’t triggered the same buzz as De Ligt’s rise.

The 19-year-old Ajax star has all the attributes to be a generational talent, having been part of the first team in Amsterdam since the 2016-17 season.

He’s also the crown jewel of an excellent crop of Dutch youngsters making their mark at international level:

De Ligt has been exceptional in the Eredivisie and the UEFA Europa League in the past, showcasing remarkable composure and authority despite being in the nascent stages of his career.

He has made a step forward in his development this season, showing he can be a defensive linchpin for the Netherlands and performing well in the UEFA Champions League. All the indications point to a player who would excel at Juve, City or Barcelona.

Stylistically, he’s a centre-back in the modern mould:

A fee of €50 million may seem excessive, although if there are a number of clubs vying for his signature, it would be no surprise if Ajax set their valuation high. 

Juventus are one of the best defensive sides in Europe, although David Amoyal noted they may need a replacement for their stalwart centre-back Andrea Barzagli soon:

De Ligt would potentially be a long-term successor not only to Barzagli, but Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. 

At 19, there’s still a lot of developing for him to do to reach those standards, although if any defender in the game is going to scale those heights, De Ligt is among them.

Juventus have shown in past pursuits of stars like Gianluigi Buffon and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’re ready to pay big money for the right player, too.  



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