Juventus to Reportedly Step Up Matthijs de Ligt Pursuit Amid Barcelona Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2018

Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax during the UEFA Champions League group E match between  SL Benfica and Ajax Amsterdam at Estadio La Luz on November 97, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Juventus are reportedly ready to intensify their pursuit of Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt by inviting him to Turin.

According to Fabrizio Romano of Calciomercato, the Italian champions are keen to convince the youngster that the football club and the city are the perfect place for him ahead of a possible switch next summer.

It's said Juve want De Ligt to realise the city is the place for him to mature and become "definitively one of the best defenders in the world."

However, it's added Barcelona will provide serious competition for the 19-year-old, as club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has identified the centre-back as a key target. Romano noted an offer in excess of €50 million (£43 million) wouldn't be enough to convince Ajax to sell, especially with interest from the Premier League also.

De Ligt may still be in the infancy of his career, but he's been rated as one of the best prospects in the game for a couple of years now. He made his Ajax debut in September 2016 and was a key player as the club put together a run to the UEFA Europa League final.

Now he's a regular fixture in the Amsterdam outfit's XI, and while he continues to thrive in the Dutch top flight, De Ligt has also mixed it with some of the best forwards in the world with the Dutch national team and in the UEFA Champions League this season:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Matthijs de Ligt won more tackles (4) than any other player on the pitch during Bayern Munich 1-1 Ajax. A huge display at the Allianz Arena. ⛰ https://t.co/2jjSwvncUM

There are standout aspects of De Ligt's game that would make him an ideal acquisition for both Juventus and Barcelona.

The Italian side are home to two of the best natural defenders of this generation in Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. 

In addition to those instincts, De Ligt boasts the technical proficiency you would expect from an Ajax academy graduate, meaning he'd be able to slot in at Barcelona. Given the Blaugrana's identity has centred on playing out from the back, De Ligt would give them a composed presence in bringing the ball out:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Matthijs de Ligt: Has made more passes (459) than any other teenager in the Eredivisie this season For more player stats -- https://t.co/oISzb2go1C https://t.co/t43wUlGzb3

He can also offer a threat in set-piece situations:

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

Links to Juventus, Barcelona and others are inevitable throughout the course of this season, as De Ligt has established himself as a possible superstar-in-waiting at Ajax.

Given Juventus still have 34-year-old Chiellini and 37-year-old Andrea Barzagli as first-team regulars, adding youth to their back line would make sense. It appears they're ready to do all they can to get this deal done before Barcelona next summer, too.