With every generation of footballers, comes several defenders who define the period as being of the utmost quality, pure class. This most recent generation can look to Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Virgil van Djik, and Mats Hummels as just some of the elites who have consistently played at a peak.
The next generation of defenders who are looking to take over haven’t necessarily conveyed peak performance for long enough, players such as Samuel Umtiti, Aymeric Laporte, and even Jose Gimenez from Atletico Madrid. One such player who is much younger but seems poised to make the jump from good to great is Matthijs de Ligt.
The youngster who currently plies his trade for Ajax, is only 19 years old but has already been handed the captain’s armband. With his performances this season and last, De Ligt’s name has been circulating around Barcelona for a while now.
Raised in the Ajax style of play, De Ligt has the quality and mentality to not only make an immediate impact at the Camp Nou, but become the next revolutionary defender for this FC Barcelona team. We all remember Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal, and Gerard Pique – De Ligt has the instruments to place himself in that echelon of great.
Look no further than Ajax’s recent Champions League games against Real Madrid. Facing the Royal Whites in the competition they have won three successive years in a row is no small task. But over two legs, Ajax gave up three goals, and limited a potent Madrid offense consistently. At the heart of that defensive effort was De Ligt, constantly shadowing expertly and proving his tremendous capabilities at the back.
Of course, at 19 years of age, the youngster can still be forgiven for some trembling moments, such as the Netherlands recent Euro qualifier against Germany. Leroy Sane in particular gave De Ligt a lot of trouble, but much of that trouble can be accredited to the system the Dutch began the game in.
In addition to having the talent and fortitude, another possible point to consider for his transfer is that of his current club and country team-mate, Frenkie de Jong. The young midfielder has already agreed to a transfer and is a player that many Blaugranes are excited to see demonstrate his great skill.
Again, the second leg against Madrid comes to mind, with De Jong playing brilliantly, particularly a shimmy that left Luka Modric baffled. With De Jong already on his way, the young Dutchman can certainly take comfort in knowing that he will have a team-mate to help him out with any cultural or early pain points he may have at Barcelona.
Lastly, with a rumored move edging closer and closer. It is extremely important to remember De Ligt is still young and has plenty of time left to improve. Surely there will be mistakes in the future, but just as a young Pique, Ramos, and Van Djik learned, certainly so will he. By investing in the future, Barcelona can also benefit their present! Visca Barca!