Arsenal have reportedly joined Barcelona in pursuit of Dutch wonderkid Matthijs de Ligt, who is valued at £70 million by Ajax.
According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal are the latest club to be linked with Matthijs de Ligt, with the Gunners keen on signing him in the summer transfer window. The Ajax prodigy has also been linked with Barcelona, and is priced at around £70 million.
Matthijs de Ligt has the world at his feet while he is still in his teens. The spotlight was also shone on him when he broke into the Ajax first-team setup aged 17, but he is now more than just a highly-rated prospect. Over the last two years, his stock has risen considerably, so much so that he is now regarded as one of the best young defenders in the world.
Another impressive aspect is the fact that he is now the Ajax captain while also being an indispensable figure for the Dutch National Side. But, his incredible progress since his breakthrough campaign could spell trouble for Ajax, with the likes of Barcelona and Arsenal keen on signing him.
Barcelona hold a long-standing interest in de Ligt, who is reportedly set to be their priority in the summer transfer window. Ernesto Valverde already has a gamut of top class central defensive options at his disposal, with Jean-Clair Todibo also signed as a long-term solution.
Nevertheless, it looks like de Ligt is set to be pursued in the summer transfer window, although Barcelona now face competition from Arsenal in the race to sign the 19-year-old defensive wonderkid.
Arsenal did bolster the heart of their defence last summer by signing Sokratis Papastathopoulos. But, at 30, the Greek centre-back is only likely to be a stopgap at best. In addition to Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny is also in the twilight of his career, while Shkodran Mustafi has been unreliable for the Gunners, which explains why they are in the hunt for a defender like de Ligt.
But, the player’s £70 million valuation poses a problem for Arsenal, who are operating on a limited budget. Raising the amount is set to complicated for the Premier League heavyweights, as per the report, which suggests that Champions League qualification is necessary for Emery to receive a budget of more than £40 million.
Additionally, Arsenal will also need to offload Mesut Ozil and his £350,000-a-week wages so as to fully raise the £70 million. The latter might just happen, with widespread reports claiming that the North Londoners are looking for offers to sell the German playmaker.
But, it also remains to be seen if de Ligt is open to joining Arsenal over Barcelona, a club he has publicly admitted to be an admirer of. For now, the two European heavyweights are among a gamut of top clubs that are showing interest in the teenage prodigy, and it will be interesting to see which outfit he ends up playing for next season.