Ajax Say No January Exits for Barca Targets Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 1, 2018

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 18: (L-R) Carel Eiting of Ajax, Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax, Frenkie de Jong of Ajax  during the   Training Ajax at the De Toekomst on September 18, 2018 in Amsterdam Netherlands (Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars has reiterated the club's stance on whether Frenkie de Jong or Matthijs de Ligt could leave the club in January, saying there's "absolutely no chance" either Barcelona target will depart.

Midfielder De Jong and centre-back De Ligt have each been linked with the Blaugrana in recent months, but Overmars told Fox Sports any midseason move for either player wasn't an option (h/t Goal).

"I think it is pretty well known that nobody will be leaving Ajax in the January transfer window," he said. "There is absolutely no chance, regardless of any offers that could come in."

De Ligt and De Jong have stood above the rest at the Johan Cruyff Arena for some time and are attracting major interest from around Europe, though Barca have remained one of the most closely associated suitors.

The club went a long way to filling the gap left by Andres Iniesta's departure when they acquired midfielder Arthur Melo, and Barca goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen suggested De Jong could be the heir to another Camp Nou stalwart, per Goal:

Goal @goal

😲 Could Frenkie de Jong be good enough to replace Sergio Busquets? https://t.co/7s4wj8bHta

The Dutch stopper recently told Sport of the impression he has of his Netherlands team-mates and singled out De Ligt (h/t AS):

"I didn't play with De Jong at Ajax, but I did play with De Ligt for a few weeks, because he came up to the first team in the summer of 2016. I was able to work with him that pre-season, before coming to Barca. He's a player with a lot of quality and is only 19. 

"He's physical, strong, mentally strong, especially if you see the [Netherlands] game against Germany. In the first half he didn't go so well, but he recovered in the second half, he was excellent in the second half. He was also excellent against Bayern Munich in the Champions League for Ajax."

Cillessen added: "I spoke with him about [Barcelona]. He has the level, but he's still 19 years old. ... I don't know because [Marc] Overmars is in charge at Ajax, so I don't know what he wants. I also read he's not going anywhere [in January]."

The Blaugrana reportedly remain close on the pair's heels, as journalist Mootaz Chehade recently said their scouting operation is ongoing:

Mootaz Chehade @MHChehade

Barcelona had scouts at the Ajax vs. Benfica game yesterday to watch both Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

While the need to find a successor to Busquets may be a concern, the lack of cover at centre-back may be more pressing. Samuel Umtiti has been out injured since September, meaning summer recruit Clement Lenglet has been regularly called upon to partner Gerard Pique.

But Pique has earned criticism for some subpar performances, and De Ligt could be seen as the long-term solution at centre-back, particularly as Thomas Vermaelen's contract is set to expire in the summer.

De Ligt may be only 19, but he carries himself like someone with far more experience and carries a big attacking threat, which he demonstrated against Heracles on the season's opening day, with Eleven Sports sharing footage:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

A man in demand! @Juventusfcen reportedly joining @FCBarcelona in the race to sign @AFCAjax_EN captain, Matthijs de Ligt Valued at £44m, would you take a punt on him? https://t.co/RlMyCTI1x9

Barcelona and Ajax have conducted a lot of business down the years—usually with the Catalans taking some talent from Amsterdam—and the Blaugrana seem determined to capture De Jong and De Ligt.

That being said, Barca will seemingly need to look elsewhere if they are desperate for additions in January.