Barcelona's chances of signing Frenkie de Jong this season don't look good after Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars ruled out selling the 21-year-old during the January transfer window.
Barca pursued De Jong during the summer and remain keen, but Overmars remains adamant the interest will go nowhere, per AS (h/t MailOnline's Jordan Seward): "Barcelona can return in January if they want, but no player will leave."
The Blaugrana are said to have "stepped up their pursuit" after Tottenham Hotspur appeared as a suitor, according to Seward. He also noted there was even a provisional agreement to transfer De Jong to the Camp Nou next summer.
Overmars and Ajax also knocked back Tottenham's bid, believed to be £45 million, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t another report from Seward). It means Barca can expect to have to part with a hefty fee if the club is to finally secure one of the brightest young talents in Europe.
The silver lining for the Blaugrana comes from the player leaving the door open to a possible move in the future. Speaking to NOS (h/t Goal's Harry Sherlock), De Jong said: "Maybe someday I'll join Barcelona, but not this season. I'm staying at Ajax. I think it will be a good year."
Able to play in defence or at the base of midfield, De Jong is blessed with the technique typical of a player schooled at Ajax. He's also not afraid to engage in the more rugged aspects of the game, showcasing decent aerial power and strength in one-on-one battles.
There is little doubt he'd be an asset at Barca, where manager Ernesto Valverde needs to refresh key positions at the back. Javier Mascerhano, long an essential utility defender and holding midfielder at the Camp Nou, is now plying his trade in the Chinese Super League.
Without him, there isn't an obvious alternative to 30-year-old Sergio Busquets, who still performs a vital job screening the back four. Meanwhile, centre-back Gerard Pique is 31, while top deputy Thomas Vermaelen is 32.
De Jong would provide an infusion of youth in the spine of Valverde's team. It makes him a worthy target, but it also explains why the Blaugrana will need to stump up the cash.