Manchester City’s hopes of signing Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt could have just been boosted with claims that Barcelona are unlikely to bid for the Dutch sensation in the summer.
De Ligt, 19, is wanted by a host of European heavyweights but has been favoured to follow Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong to Catalonia and sign with Barcelona.
Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onanasaid this week: “De Ligt wants to go with De Jong to Barcelona. I have spoken to both of them about it.”
However, the Daily Mail reports that Barcelona cannot afford the asking price after their lavish outlay on De Jong, which could put City in pole position should they decide to bid for a player who is most certainly on their radar.
De Ligt, like De Jong, has been frequently linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium and is reportedly viewed as an ideal Vincent Kompany successor with his excellent leadership skills.
City and Barcelona are not the only clubs interested in De Ligt however, with Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Juventus also keen on the centre-back.
Another potential complication is De Ligt’s agent being the notorious Mino Raiola, who has spoken negatively about Pep Guardiola in the past. However, it should be noted that Philippe Sandler, another young Dutch defender who plays for City, is also represented by Raiola.
City have four good options for centre-back right now in Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany, but with Kompany injury prone and Otamendi getting older, the Blues may be looking ahead.
Eric Garcia and Sandler are two good prospects on the books, but City scouts are looking around Europe with Borussia Monchengladbach defender Nico Elvedi also now said to be on the radar. Elvedi, 22, would be a much cheaper alternative to De Ligt.