Man Utd lead race for big-name defender as Arsenal stunningly creep up to make Ten Hag worry

Matthijs de Ligt next to the Man Utd and Arsenal badges

Arsenal have joined Man Utd in the race for Matthijs de Ligt

Manchester United are now trying to stay ahead of competition from Arsenal in the race to bring Matthijs de Ligt to the Premier League from Bayern Munich, a report has claimed.

De Ligt is not happy with his situation at Bayern, even though he is only in his second season at the club. Usually, Dayot Upamecano and Kim Min-jae are ahead of him in the pecking order at centre-back.

As De Ligt’s frustration grows, so does the prospect of him leaving Bayern. Recently, it has been claimed that he has chosen Man Utd as his preferred next club.

That move would reunite him with his former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who is hoping to evolve his defence in the summer ahead of Raphael Varane potentially leaving.

But the move to Man Utd is not De Ligt’s only potential route into the Premier League, it seems.

According to Football Transfers, Arsenal have joined the race for the Dutch defender, after signing his compatriot Jurrien Timber last year.

Timber has missed most of his debut season through injury, leaving Arsenal wondering if they need more depth in defence.

They could face interest in Jakub Kiwior in the summer, for example, after deciding to keep the former Spezia centre-back on board in January.

If Arsenal decide they need to sign another centre-back, they could become contenders for De Ligt.

However, as things stand, Man Utd are the more likely takers of the 24-year-old, who they would have to prise out of a contract that is due to last until 2027.

Man Utd in contact for De Ligt

After all, Man Utd have held talks with De Ligt’s representatives several times. In contrast, Arsenal have spoken about the Netherlands international, but only internally.

De Ligt has made 59 appearances for Bayern so far, but they might not be so opposed to his departure, just like Juventus let him go in 2022.

When working under Ten Hag before at Ajax, De Ligt stood out as captain of a side that reached the Champions League semi-finals, but he has not progressed into the elite bracket since.

He finds himself at a crossroads again ahead of the summer transfer window, in which he could end his Bayern career after just two seasons.

Despite his development not following its projected trajectory, De Ligt still appeals to many clubs in England and on mainland Europe.

It means Bayern could yet receive a decent fee for him, with reports suggesting a valuation of around €60m (above £51m).

They might make a minor loss on him, but in terms of capital gains – a crucial measuring tool for Financial Fair Play – they should fall on the right side.

It is now over to clubs like Man Utd and Arsenal to determine whether or not De Ligt represents good value for money.

There is little doubting his pedigree and the fact he is 24 means the best of his career could still be to come, but he needs to rediscover some confidence and consistency to justify a high valuation.

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