Barcelona have reportedly decided to step up their chase of Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, amid rising interest from across Europe in the teenage sensation.

According to a report from Goal.com, La Liga champions Barcelona are set to intensify their pursuit of Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, as they look to fend off interest from a number of clubs across Europe.

De Ligt’s meteoric rise to become one of the most coveted defenders in Europe at the tender age of 19 years has been nothing short of remarkable. The Dutchman broke into the Ajax first-team back in the 2016-17 campaign and has already accumulated over 100 appearances for the Dutch giants.

Having been appointed the club captain this season, de Ligt has featured 40 times across all competitions, chipping in with four goals and two assists. The 19-year-old was immense as Ajax dumped out Real Madrid from the UEFA Champions League last week.

De Ligt has established himself as a mainstay at the back in the Netherlands national team as well, with the defender racking up 13 international caps for the Oranje. And his rapid growth over the last couple of seasons hasn’t gone unnoticed, with a number of clubs taking an interest in the teenager.

Barcelona have been at the forefront of the interest in de Ligt, with president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealing that the player is someone that the club are looking at ahead of the summer window. The Catalans have a packed centre-back department with Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen, in addition to January signings Jean-Clair Todibo and Jeison Murillo (loan).

However, Umtiti’s recent struggles with injury and Vermaelen’s age and fitness problems seem to have prompted the Catalans to look at strengthening the area ahead of the 2019-20 season. And de Ligt, given his age and potential, is viewed as someone who can make a difference immediately and can be the long-term replacement for Pique, when the veteran decides to hang up his boots.

Barcelona, however, are aware of the interest that their 19-year-old target has been generating from across Europe. The report from Goal.com claims that Liverpool are also looking at the youngster while the likes of Juventus and Manchester City are in the hunt as well. Arsenal too, have been linked with a swoop for the teenager.

Headed for Barcelona? (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Headed for Barcelona? (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images)

This has prompted Barcelona to act quickly, with the report claiming that the Blaugrana are hoping to get a deal tied up by the end of April. Preliminary negotiations had already been held by Eric Abidal last November and given the good working relationship that Ajax and Barcelona enjoy, the Catalans believe that a deal can be worked out at the earliest.

Barcelona already have a deal in place to sign another of Ajax’s crown jewels, Frenkie de Jong, in the summer. And as per the report, they are confident that de Ligt would be open to a move to Camp Nou, with president Bartomeu set to initiate talks.

With Barcelona ready to take swift action and get the deal over the line, it seems more like a matter of when and not if, de Ligt’s summer switch to Camp Nou will be confirmed.