Manchester City have become the latest club to join the race to sign Ajax teenage star Matthijs de Ligt in the summer transfer window.
The 18-year-old came up through the ranks of the Dutch outfit’s youth system and was promoted to their first team two years ago. Playing in the central defending position, he has scored three goals and registered two assists in 33 league appearances.
De Ligt’s form has seen him attract interest from top clubs from England and across Europe. According to Mundo Deportivo, City have now joined the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich and Barcelona in landing the centre-back.
Pep Guardiola currently has the services of Vincent Kompany, John Stones, Nicolás Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte as the first choice central defenders at the Etihad. In addition to this, Eliaquim Mangala will return to City after completing his loan spell at Everton.
The Frenchman is unlikely to be included in the Catalan manager’s plans for the next season. Kompany, on the other hand, has struggled to keep himself fit throughout the season for the last few seasons.
Otamendi will be a part of the Argentina squad for the World Cup and Guardiola expects the South American to be exhausted when he returns to the club for the next campaign. This has forced City manager to find a new centre-back and has now turned his attention towards De Ligt.
City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain is already working on the deal, according to the claims, and is hoping to secure De Ligt’s services.
Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona were the first big club to identify the 18-year-old when their technical secretary, Robert Fernandez, was scouting Ajax’s players. In addition to this, Mauricio Pochettino was hoping to bring De Ligt to the club and partner him alongside Davison Sanchez.
Arsenal were believed to be in the race to sign the Ajax defender, but Arsene Wenger’s departure has forced the Gunners to cool down their interest. It should be seen whether Bayern will also provide competition.
With interest from several top clubs across Europe, De Ligt’s price tag is likely to rise. The player has also admitted that he is unsure if he will be at Ajax beyond this campaign.
“Whether I can reassure the Ajax fans? No, it is very difficult. I would like to reassure the supporters, but the football world is strange. I really do not know and I can not say anything about it,” De Ligt explained in April.
Are Manchester City really interested? It’s a possibility, but right now De Ligt seems to be going through that stage when a young Ajax talent is linked to half of Europe’s top clubs.