Barcelona have prioritised the signing of Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt ahead of his club and international teammate Frenkie de Jong, according to reports.
The 18-year-old has emerged as the hottest defensive talent in Europe over the last two seasons, attracting interest from almost every big club on the continent.
Barcelona have been paying special attention to de Ligt and are now looking to make the defender their number one priority next summer, TV3 reports (via the Mirror).
The club have also been heavily linked with a move for Ajax midfielder de Jong. However, the Catalan giants are prepared to drop their interest in the 21-year-old and put all their attention into bringing de Ligt to the Camp Nou.
Any deal for the defender next season is going to force Barcelona to dig deep into their pockets. De Ligt’s contract in Amsterdam runs until 2021, and Ajax have the option to extend that by another season.
The defender is currently just one of a handful of names on Barcelona’s shortlist. However, a recent injury to Samuel Umtiti has forced the club to prioritise defensive reinforcements in the transfer market.
Additionally, the Blaugrana will be slowly looking to transition Gerard Piqué out of their side. The 31-year-old still has four years left on his contract in Catalonia, but the club are trying to identify long-term replacements as soon as possible.
De Ligt is unsurprisingly the first name on Barcelona’s wish-list. He has already made 76 appearances for de Godenzonen, and most recently the teenager was the standout performer in Ajax’s Champions League trip to Bayern Munich.