It has been revealed how Liverpool can get the upper hand in the race to sign Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, but it may not be good news for the club’s hopes.
The 19-year-old centre-back is one of the most highly sought-after players this summer following his outstanding season, winning the Eredivisie title and the Dutch Cup, and also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Six clubs, including the Reds, are now targeting the wonder kid as they look to add to their defences in the transfer window.
Barcelona and Juventus have already reportedly made contact, while Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are also keen.
De Ligt has been open about his likely Ajax exit this summer and has courted approaches from interested clubs, all whilst being tight-lipped over his preferred move.
Liverpool were recently installed as one of the favourites to land the Netherlands star and unite him with international team-mate Virgil van Dijk at the heart of Jurgen Klopp’s back-four.
They would have to break the bank to sign De Ligt, though, with Ajax likely to demand a world record fee for a defender and with United and PSG offering wages of up to £250,000-per-week to join them.
And Dutch football expert Marcel van der Kraan believes the European champions would also have to pay big money to super-agent Mino Raiola if they want to bring De Ligt to Anfield – something Barcelona, in particular, are refusing to do.
Asked what Liverpool have to do to sign the Dutch starlet this summer, the Netherlands-based journalist told talkSPORT: “It only can be if De Ligt’s agent, Mino Raiola, gets the money he wants from Liverpool for himself.
“But the chance that he stays at Ajax is zero.
“The wages of De Ligt are going to be big and there are more clubs who can fill that in – Juventus and Barcelona.
“Barcelona has kind of already got a deal on the table, but they really will not give in to the demands on his agents and will not go above £12m commission-wise.
“Every big club can afford to buy a big star; Liverpool can, Man United can, City, Real Madrid, Barcelona…
“The question is, who’s got this vibe around the club when you can bring in the top quality stars?”
Rumours De Ligt could be set to join Juventus ramped up on Sunday after Cristiano Ronaldo urged the youngster to join him in Turin.
De Ligt revealed his on-pitch encounter with the Juve star to the press after Portugal’s Nations League final victory over the Netherlands.
And Van der Kraan added: “Cristiano Ronaldo came up to him and begged him.
“The fact Juventus already approached him earlier, have got a deal on the table for him and have sent out Ronaldo with a job to approach him after this final and ask him – of course, De Ligt is flattered by that.”