Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen has revealed he has spoken to Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt about his links to the Catalans and has said that all of his Netherlands team-mates, including Frenkie de Jong, would love to play for the club.
The stopper spoke to Sport's Javier Giraldo after the international break and touched on the team's reported interest in his compatriots. When he was asked whether he and De Ligt spoke about the Catalans, he said: "He was at my table during every dinner, so we spoke a lot—but not just about Barcelona, about a lot of things."
He also revealed De Ligt said Barcelona is a great club and went on to state the Camp Nou would be a dream destination for all of the Netherlands internationals: "Yes, everybody in the national team would like to play for Barcelona because it's one of the best teams in the world."
The two were regulars for Ajax last season and more than held their own despite their relative lack of experience. De Ligt is just 19, while De Jong is 21.
They have also impressed on international duty, starring in the 3-0 win over 2014 world champions Germany:
As Cillessen noted, Ajax have already made it clear they are not willing to part with De Jong in January, and the same is likely true for his team-mate. The Amsterdam club haven't won the Eredivisie since the 2013-14 campaign and are desperate to keep their core together to change that this term.
Barcelona's interest in the duo makes sense because of the club's needs. Samuel Umtiti's injury has highlighted a lack of depth at centre-back, and Gerard Pique's decreasing level of play has led to calls to sign a long-term replacement.
The Catalan press appears to be growing frustrated with the former Manchester United man, per Sport Witness:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
There's a simmering irritation with Gerard Pique in Catalan media. Suggestion he's not quite as committed and focused as he could be. Retires from Spain, but during international breaks he's covering far more ground than the national team. https://t.co/OIdAy7hDhO #fcblive https://t.co/KEGfVmcnrM
In the case of De Jong, Giraldo suggested in his interview with Cillessen that there's no real back-up to Sergio Busquets in the squad. Ivan Rakitic hasn't been at his best since his phenomenal FIFA World Cup showing, and Sport reported he turned down a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Landing both seems almost impossible for the Catalans, as Ajax will surely hold out for massive transfer fees for their talented duo. A package deal could be an option, but the more likely scenario would see the two split up.