Matthijs de Ligt is set to disappoint Manchester United after he revealed a preference for Barcelona as his next career destination.

The battle had only begun in the chase for highly-rated Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, but Barcelona have emerged as the favourites to sign the defender already. A report on Sport states that the teenage prodigy has already chosen his preferred destination in the Catalans despite particular interest from Manchester United.

Matthijs de Ligt has been garnering interest from many of Europe’s top clubs. The 19-year old has produced some stellar performances for Ajax, where despite his young age, he is not just a first-team starter but also the club captain. All of 19, de Ligt has already amassed 76 appearances in all competitions for Ajax, playing a starring role over the last two seasons.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of forthcoming interest from the who’s who of Euripean football. The Premier League biggies have had their eyes on the 19-year-old for a while now, with Manchester United in particular, weighing up a move for the wonderkid. But, the most concrete of interest has been in the form of Barcelona.

Both Barcelona and Manchester United have been linked recently, as they are on the lookout for a centre-back who could be a long-term option. Barcelona seem to be eyeing de Ligt as a long-term replacement for star centre-back Gerard Pique, as well as an alternative option to Clement Lenglet who is yet to prove his worth at Camp Nou.

Ajax's 19-year-old defender Matthijs De Ligt might prefer a move to Barcelona over Manchester United. (Photo courtesy: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/AFP/Getty)

Ajax’s 19-year-old defender Matthijs De Ligt might prefer a move to Barcelona over Manchester United. (Photo courtesy: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/AFP/Getty)

Manchester United’s need for a high profile centre-back has seen them being linked with many big, experienced names before the summer window closed. Jose Mourinho now has his sights set on de Ligt, with the centre-back proving his excellence in his position, despite his young age.

However, de Ligt has hinted that he prefers a move to Barcelona over Manchester United. After the Netherlands’ impressive 3-0 won over Germany, the defender was posed with the question of choosing between the two sides, and he said, “Ha ha ha, Barcelona! I like the sun.”

However, de Ligt perhaps, only meant with the context of a holiday having previously insisted that he is committed to Ajax, although this could also be a sign pointing towards a future decision if both Barcelona and Manchester United come calling.

Ajax director of football, Marc Overmars though, has ruled out the possibility of the defender leaving the Dutch side during the January window. It could mean that Ajax could be bracing themselves for bids for de Ligt next summer.

For now, de Ligt remains firmly committed to his current club. But, it will be interesting to see where he decides to play his football if Barcelona and Manchester United indulge in a bidding war next summer.

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