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Barcelona closing in on Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt

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Bengaluru, October 12: Barcelona have reportedly made Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt one of their top transfer targets as the Spanish champions attempt to strengthen their back line.

The 19-year-old youngster is one of the most sought after defenders in the world at the moment and despite an early age, he already has around 70 senior appearances to his name while becoming the youngest ever captain of the Dutch side.

The player was earlier heavily linked with Tottenham Hotspur in the Summer but the deal did not materialize. Manchester City are also said to be interested in the player believing the Dutchman can be a long-term replacement for the ageing Vincent Kompany while Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern Munich all keeping their tabs open.

But reports in Spain now have suggested that the Catalan side are currently ahead in the race and the Spanish champions have already taken 'important steps' to sign the defender.

Barcelona have looked vulnerable defensively this season, and they have not kept a clean sheet in La Liga since a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid in August. Veteran defender Gerard Pique has been at fault in many of those matches and it is now believed that their priority is to sign a central defender as cover for the 31-year-old Spaniard.

The club now reportedly consider De Ligt as the ideal candidate to replace him as he is a technically gifted, ball-playing centre-back who would suit the Catalans' style and would help to lead from the back.

The player, however, won't come cheap as Ajax are currently in a strong negotiating position as De Ligt's contract expires in June 2021.

Any club who hopes to land him apparently has to splash around €70 million (£61m) after add-ons and bonuses but with the quality the player possesses, he certainly could be a quality long-term replacement for 31-year-old Gerard Pique.

The 19-year-old however lately shrugged off all the rumours claiming he is not thinking about a move this season but with so much interest from all the top clubs all around it now very unlikely he will remain as an Ajax player for much longer.

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    Story first published: Friday, October 12, 2018, 14:13 [IST]
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