Juventus have reached an agreement with Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, according to the player's agent. Mino Raiola told Dutch source De Telegraaf (h/t Football Italia) about the deal on Sunday: "De Ligt has agreed terms with Juventus and now it's up to Ajax on how they deal with this situation."
Barcelona and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain are said to still be in the mix. However, Raiola is adamant De Ligt will continue to respect his current club and won't act the same way as Antoine Griezmann, who is reportedly waiting on a potential move from Barca to Atletico Madrid: "That's out of the question and so is arbitration, as it is not his style."
Griezmann is expected to be "sanctioned" by Atleti after reportedly not travelling with the team for pre-season training, according to Marca's Pablo Egea.
De Ligt doesn't want to go down the same route:
Even so, his proposed move to Turin is in danger of becoming as protracted as Griezmann's possible journey to the Camp Nou. Agreeing personal terms is the first step, and Football Italia noted how reports of a five-year contract for an annual sum of €9 million have been mooted.
Numbers have varied based on the reports, with De Ligt continuing to be linked with the Bianconeri over the last month:
Settling on a fee Ajax and Juve are both happy with remains an issue. Several offers from the Serie A champions have already been considered:
While there are still issues to be solved, De Ligt does appear to be inching closer to the Italian top flight. If a move goes through, it would represent a major coup for Juve, who saw firsthand how talented De Ligt is during last season's UEFA Champions League.
The 19-year-old scored as a youthful Ajax side beat Juventus 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium to eliminate one of the tournament favourites at the quarter-final stage. It wasn't supposed to happen to a club that had invested £99.2 million to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
Ronaldo ensures Juve will remain a force in attack under the watch of new manager Maurizio Sarri. Yet one of Sarri's main tasks is to refresh a defence still reliant on 34-year-old Giorgio Chiellini.
De Ligt can become the linchpin of a new-look back line thanks to his physical power, aggression in the air and technique on the ball. Those qualities helped Ajax reach the last four of the Champions League and also win a domestic double of Eredivisie title and DNVB Cup.
Ajax will understandably be reluctant to lose another member of a gifted squad, having already seen midfielder Frenkie de Jong join Barca. However, a club built on a self-sustainable model of developing youngsters into marketable stars will surely part ways with De Ligt for the right fee.
Judging by Raiola's words, Juve are halfway there to making it happen.