?The Premier League trio of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United have joined a long list of suitors in the race to sign Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt as contact has reportedly been made with his representatives.
The highly-rated 18-year-old has attracted interest from Europe’s elite after being tipped to become one of the leading central defenders in world football, with Barcelona and Bayern Munich joining the English clubs in making contact with the defender’s agent, Barry Hulshoff.
According to Spanish outlet ?Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are leading the race to land the 18-year-old due to the club’s close relationship with Ajax, with the Spanish outfit understood to be eager to secure a deal for a summer move.
However, the report claims they are not alone in their interest and would therefore need to part with a substantial fee as De Ligt also remains under contract with Ajax until 2021.
The Netherlands international, tipped for stardom, will only part ways with Ajax if he is offered regular first-team football, something Barcelona may struggle with having Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti in the heart of their defence.
Similarly, both City and United have a host of centre-backs to choose from unlike Arsenal whose ageing back-line could be buoyed by the arrival of De Ligt.
Yet, with experience beyond his years clubs across Europe will undoubtedly do everything they can to land the 18-year-old, where deadwood could be shifted in a bid to ensure De Ligt is the backbone of a club’s defence for the foreseeable future.