Barcelona are ready to take their interest in Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt to the next level, after the teenage sensation hinted at a possible summer exit.

According to a report from the Evening Standard, La Liga champions Barcelona are set to step up their interest in Ajax and Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt ahead of the summer transfer window.

The 19-year-old de Ligt has emerged as one of the most highly sought-after defenders in Europe since breaking into the Ajax first-team. It has been a marvelous journey for the teenager, who has gone on to become the club captain at such a young age, while establishing himself as a mainstay in the Dutch national team as well.

De Ligt’s rapid progress hasn’t gone unnoticed with a number of clubs across Europe taking an interest in the centre-back, and Barcelona emerging as his strongest suitors. The Catalans have made no secret of their interest in the 19-year-old and as per latest reports, are set to act on it in the coming days.

Barcelona’s technical secretary Eric Abidal watched de Ligt in action last week in Netherlands’ 2-3 defeat to Germany in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers. While the 19-year-old did not fare all too well defensively, he did end up scoring a goal for Ronald Koeman’s side.

Moreover, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and CEO Oscar Grau are also in Amsterdam for the European Club Association (ECA) meeting and could hold talks with Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar and sporting director Marc Overmars over the possibility of signing de Ligt, the report from Evening Standard indicates.

De Ligt too could be open to a switch to Camp Nou in the summer after he dropped a subtle hint post the defeat to Germany. When asked by asked by Esporte Interativo if he was thinking about a possible move to Barcelona, he said, as quoted by Evening Standard, “I play my game. I concentrate on football. Let’s see where I end up.”

Inching closer to Barcelona? (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Inching closer to Barcelona? (Photo by Enmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona and Ajax share a good working relationship and the Catalans have raided the Dutch heavyweights once already this year, to sign midfield sensation Frenkie de Jong for €75 million plus €11 million in variables. De Ligt too is likely to command a similar transfer fee, the report adds.

Barcelona regard de Ligt as the perfect long-term heir for Gerard Pique and in order to make room for his arrival, they are believed to be willing to listen to offers for World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti, who is wanted by Manchester United.

All the signs are pointing towards a summer switch to Barcelona for the supremely talented Matthijs de Ligt. It only seems a matter of time before the deal is over the line.

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