Manchester City reportedly lead the race to sign Matthijs de Ligt, who is also a summer target for Premier League rivals Arsenal.
According to a report by Daily Mirror, Manchester City are the front runners in the chase for Dutch wonderkid Matthijs de Ligt. Arsenal are also interested in signing the Ajax defender in the summer transfer window, and will cost around £50 million.
De Ligt burst onto the scene in senior-level club football last season, having already made waves in youth football with Ajax for several years. Over the last two year or so though, the teenage prodigy has taken European football by storm, showcasing maturity beyond his nascent years.
Now a mainstay at the back for the Dutch giants, de Ligt has featured 35 times across all competitions, even grabbing three goals and two assists along the way. The player also seems to have established himself as a regular in the Dutch National Side, and is rightly attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs across Europe.
Manchester City are ahead of Arsenal and Bayern Munich in the race to sign Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt (18) after the Dutch club put a £50m price-tag on him. [@MullockSMirror] pic.twitter.com/yjjkAH6lBq
— City Watch (@City_Watch) April 14, 2018
Barcelona have, for a long time, been heavily linked with a move for de Ligt. But, the Catalan giants seem to have fallen behind. The player is reluctant to move to Camp Nou, with Arsenal having their sights firmly set on the youngster. The Gunners though, face stiff competition from Manchester City in pursuit of the 18-year-old.
At Arsenal, the need to sign a centre-back has accentuated over the course of the season. While Per Mertesacker is set to hang up his boots, Laurent Koscielny has looked a shadow of the solid centre-back who has long been regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe.
To make matters worse, neither Calum Chambers nor Rob Holding have managed to impress much when given an opportunity this season, although they are likely to be persisted with as ones for the future. Nevertheless, with Arsenal conceding more than 60 goals this season, it is obvious that defensive reinforcements are needed.
Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, has four top class centre-backs at his disposal. But, Vincent Kompany’s history with injuries and the fact that Nicolas Otamendi is 30 now means that a long-term central defensive signing would be welcome.
De Ligt’s addition would also follow a theme under Guardiola for Manchester City, which has seen the manager create a solid core in the squad that will last for years. And the report suggests that the newly crowned Premier League champions are the favourites ahead of Arsenal to sign de Ligt this summer.
Arsenal have dropped behind their Premier League rivals due to the price that Ajax have slapped on the player. The report entails that any suitor will have to shell out £50 million to secure the services of de Ligt, which Manchester City are prepared to pay, but not Arsenal.
Both Arsenal and Manchester City are believed to be scouting de Ligt again this weekend as he gets closer to a move away from Ajax this summer. The player, meanwhile, wants to represent a team where he can clock regular playing time, and the Gunners might just be ahead on that account in the near future.
It now remains to be seen which way the player heads off to in the summer, as the race to sign him continues to heat up with each passing week, and each colossal performance.