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Manchester City are reportedly ready to rival Barcelona for Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt and are said to have already tabled a €60 million (£52.5 million) offer for the player.
According to Sport (h/t Naveen Ullal of Sport Witness), the Premier League side are big fans of the Netherlands international and have made the highest offer for the youngster so far.
However, it’s suggested one potential stumbling block for City is that De Ligt is managed by agent Mino Raiola, who is said to have a poor relationship with the English champions and their manager Pep Guardiola.
According to Mundo Deportivo (h/t Sport Witness), Raiola will play a “fundamental role” in determining where the centre-back will end up should he leave the Amsterdam giants in the coming transfer windows.
It’s noted that Raiola visited Ciutat Esportiva de Sant Joan Despi recently to hold a meeting with Barcelona’s sport manager Pep Segura and sporting director Eric Abidal in an attempt to establish relationships.
Here’s how the story was covered in the Catalan newspaper:
FC Barcelona 🇫🇷 @FCBarcelona_FR
📰 • Mundo Deportivo • 11 oct. 2018.
🗣️ • Ils négocient pour de Ligt. https://t.co/BigFXYNobz
In addition to the teams mentioned, Sport (h/t Ullal) also noted Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus have shown an interest in bringing in the Dutch prodigy, but the Blaugrana are said to be taking “important steps” to sign the player.
The widespread reported interest in the defender makes sense, as De Ligt has looked at home at the top level ever since he burst onto the scene for Ajax. Still just 19, he is a regular in the Amsterdam side’s XI and has captained the side too.
Despite his tender years, he has already made major strides in the game:
19y 48d – Matthijs de Ligt became the fourth youngest player to reach 50 Eredivisie appearances in @AFCAjax history and the youngest since Clarence Seedorf in 1995. Diamond. https://t.co/oToc6sbkGR
As a product of the Ajax academy, De Ligt will have strong links to the team and as such any decision regarding his future will need to be taken with consideration.
The teenager has shown already that he has a rich understanding of the game and is technically outstanding.
What will also be key for the elite teams said to be interested in him will be his ability on the ball, per WhoScored:
Matthijs de Ligt: Has made more passes (459) than any other teenager in the Eredivisie this season
For more player stats — https://t.co/oISzb2go1C https://t.co/t43wUlGzb3
On paper he is a natural fit for Barcelona or City, two teams who play a possession-based brand of football. De Ligt has the game and the temperament needed to step up another level.
At Barcelona he’d potentially have to compete with new signing Clement Lenglet, club icon Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, while at City there’s already serious competition for defensive places between John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi.