Barcelona U-turn gives Liverpool, Man Utd free run at €75m defensive star

Date published: Sunday 5th May 2019 2:53 - Rob McCarthy

Liverpool and Manchester United have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt.

The two Premier League giants are known to have shown an interest in the outstanding 19-year-old, but it was thought that a move to Barcelona was very much on the cards.

However, Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre has revealed the club are nowhere near a deal for De Ligt, and played down reports they would be attempting to sign him.

Speaking to Sky, Mestre said: “I don’t know why they’re saying this [that a deal is complete] because [De Ligt] hasn’t signed.

“[Gerard] Pique is evidently one of the best central defenders in the world, if not the best.

“After him, we have players like [Clement] Lenglet, [Samuel] Umtiti and we’ve signed a very young player in [Jean-Clair] Todibo.

“The defenders we already have are of the highest level.

“In De Ligt’s case, we’ll speak with the sporting director at the end of the season and we’ll speak not about De Ligt, but about what they say.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: Daley Blind and Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax celebrate after the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax at at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on April 30, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Mestre’s comments certainly suggest that the Catalan outfit are not in the market for a new centre-back, leaving the door open for Liverpool and United to battle for De Ligt.

The youngster has been earmarked as the perfect partner for Anfield skipper Virgil Van Dijk, with the duo already striking up an understanding at international level.

United, meanwhile, are on the look-out for at least one new centre-back this summer – although they appear more likely to move for a more experienced option, given their defensive issues this season.




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