Report: Barcelona Set to Meet Mino Raiola to Discuss Matthijs de Ligt TransferNovember 30, 2018
Barcelona will reportedly meet with Mino Raiola, the agent of star Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, to discuss a potential transfer as the Catalan club seek to solve their woes at the back.
De Ligt has attracted attention from Europe's top clubs following his swift progress in Amsterdam, and Sport (h/t Football Espana) reported Raiola will now speak with the Blaugrana over the Dutchman's future.
It's also mentioned Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has already dined with De Ligt, 19, as well as having conversations over the phone, suggesting the club's interest in him is strong.
Manager Ernesto Valverde's side are second to Sevilla in La Liga and have lost twice this season. Barca have also failed to keep a clean sheet in the league since their second match of the campaign, conceding 20 times in their last 14 games across all competitions.
Gerard Pique has been below his best at times this season, and despite the summer arrival of centre-back Clement Lenglet from Sevilla, the team has struggled during Samuel Umtiti's absence due to a knee injury.
The France international was injured in late September, and sportswriter Jeremy Smith noted his recurrence of the problem:
Football Espana referred to reports from Sport and Catalunya Radio, which said Umtiti will now undergo surgery to correct the issue and looks likely to miss "months of action" as a result.
Eredivisie giants Ajax aren't renowned for letting their young talents leave before they feel is necessary. Sporting director Marc Overmars told LaRoma24.it (h/t ESPN FC's Sam Marsden) in October that a transfer next summer was possible, but said of a winter deal: "The chances of De Ligt leaving Ajax in January are zero per cent."
One can hardly blame Ajax for being so protective over their teenage asset. Kylian Mbappe cost Paris Saint-Germain a permanent fee of €180 million earlier in 2018; De Ligt is a player of comparable age and pedigree in his position, and he's contracted at his club until June 2021.
He's captained his club this season and showcased a combination of athleticism, precise passing and composure. The centre-back has also been capped 13 times for his country and has been a key component in their recent revival under manager Ronald Koeman:
Dutch correspondent Marcel van der Kraan said De Ligt, along with midfielder Frenkie de Jong, would be the next two departures from the Johan Cruyff Arena in a recent BBC 5 Live Sport appearance:
BBC 5 Live Sport on BBC Sounds @5liveSport
"I guarantee the next two exits at Ajax will be in the €60m to €75m figures and will be Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong." @VanDerMarcel explains the revolution in Ajax's wage structure and transfers. More in the Football Daily ➡ https://t.co/BheFKCRFdW https://t.co/2xdhZrr1gI
Ajax may not go on to sell De Ligt for a fee close to what AS Monaco received for Mbappe, but they can at least have some control over when the Netherlands international leaves the Dutch capital.
A meeting with Raiola suggests the agent could be approaching one of his next major moves in the market as Barcelona again look to reinforce their back line by chasing the biggest defensive prospect in Europe.