The best young player in European football at the moment is Mattjis De Ligt of Ajax who looks poised to join Barcelona.
Barcelona Look Like the Favorites
Before the close of the January transfer window, Barcelona were able to complete the signing of a young Ajax star for next season. They will be hoping to do the same this summer by singing another Dutch star, Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt. The 19-year-old has all of the makings of a world class defender and the fact that he is captain of a big European side at his age tells you that he could be a very special player. With Barcelona having already signed his teammate Frenkie de Jong, the move for De Ligt would give the Catalans two of Europe’s best young players who will grow together as teammates for club and country. Although reports indicate that Barcelona are the favorites to sign him, De Ligt has received strong interest from Manchester United and Liverpool. The connection to Liverpool is also quite interesting as Virgil Van Dijk is his defensive partner in the Dutch national team and the thought of the two reuniting at club level would be quite a formidable pairing for many years to come.
Why is De Ligt in Such High Demand?
The correct answer to that question is he has everything that you could want from a modern defender. Most people that follow Dutch football closely say he is a once in a generation talent. He is a defender from the Ajax school of football meaning he can really play with the ball at his feet. He can pass long to start an attack or combine with his midfielders for a quick one-two.
He is also dangerous from set pieces as well which he proved in the Champions League knockout stages:
Verify his birth certificate again.
(De Ligt Goal Every Angle) pic.twitter.com/NLTY0P39kO
— DEMBOUZ Jr. (@DxmbouzJunior) April 16, 2019
The thing that makes him special is that with all of his ability on the ball, he is a genuinely good defender. He has physical strength and pace to go along with great positional sense and the tenacity that you need to be a quality defender at the highest level. This is the main reason why Barcelona appear to be leading the line for his signature. The Barcelona way of playing comes from the Ajax school of football and at the moment, De Ligt is their star pupil. What that actually means is the integration period would be very short. Although he is only 19 years old, he could conceivably be an immediate starter for the Catalans because of his familiarity with the way they play. In fact, if he does settle in at Barcelona, he could legitimately one day be a club captain. Of course being captain of Ajax and Barcelona are two different things however he is a 19 year old captain for a reason.
Take a look at this speech he made during his team’s victory celebrations:
What a speech from the Ajax captain 👌
Take a bow, Matthijs de Ligt!pic.twitter.com/58B70cjb2S
— Goal (@goal) May 16, 2019
That is not a normal 19 year old. That is a born leader who isn’t anywhere close to his prime yet and is already the main man on and off the field for a big European club. These are the reasons why he is in such high demand and the bidding war for his services could get interesting.
Barcelona Will Need to Act Quickly
It is reported that De Ligt has already turned down a big money move to Manchester United although it is believed that they will make an even bigger offer. Recently Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars, a former Barcelona player himself, said that Juventus had approached the club about signing De Ligt after Ajax knocked them out of the Champions League. Now rumors are that Manchester City will make a bid for the player as well. If Barcelona want their man, they will have to act quickly or risk watching him sign for one of their main European rivals.