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Why Matthijs de Ligt has become Barcelona’s top priority

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The Ajax captain could be the man to replace Gerard Pique

Ajax v Royal Standard de Liege - UEFA Champions League third round qualifying match Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

One of the most dramatic headlines of Barcelona’s current campaign -- is the plight of Gerard Pique. After a World Cup with Spain that ended in defeat at the hands of host nation Russia, most Barcelona fans expected the center-back to return to the Camp Nou with the motivation to succeed this year. Not just because of the World Cup shock defeat but also because Barcelona went out and bought another young defender this summer, Clement Lenglet. If being sent home early wasn’t enough, surely another center-back would light a fire. While Pique’s motivation might actually be there, his concentration and performances have not been.

This campaign, Pique has been a disaster in the back four. While I will always appreciate his poise on the ball and the inspiring performances he has put in, it is time for him to wake up. Gifting goals to several opponents, Pique has reportedly drawn the ire of Messi as well - with the Argentinian reportedly calling him out for the terrible state of the defense. In light of this, it seems that the Barcelona board has begun to look for more reinforcements in the defense and look to the future.

Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

A name that has continually arisen this campaign is that of the young Dutch defender -- Matthijs de Ligt. The young center-back is only 19, but as a teenager retains the title of captain for his club, Ajax. The youngster has the capabilities to be Barcelona’s center-back of the future, as well as a player that can be instantly implemented into the starting XI. He has put in a string of performances that have Europe’s elite on the lookout. In addition to Barcelona, the Citizens of Manchester, Manchester City have set their signs on the youngster as well.

With Pique demonstrating that his peak might have passed, it might be wise for the Barcelona board to invest in him now. While Pique might still turn his season around and produce the consistent, dominating displays that Barcelona fans are used to - it would be convenient for the board to start thinking of a future center-back pairing.

A majority of fans would salivate at the idea of pairing De Ligt with a left-side center-back such as Lenglet or Umtiti. If purchased in the winter or summer, De Ligt would also be afforded the opportunity to learn a great deal from Pique, something that Barcelona legend, Carles Puyol was also able to provide before retiring from the club.

Ajax v SK Sturm Graz - UEFA Champions League Qualifier Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

In the end, the campaign is long. When Barcelona won the treble in Luis Enrique’s first year in charge, Pique was initially dropped from the squad for his lackadaisical attitude and horrible defending. That same year though, Pique turned it around and was instrumental in Barcelona beating Juventus in the Champions League final, as well as picking up the domestic double. Either way, De Ligt has been fantastic and if Barcelona can pick him up at a decent price (especially in this transfer market), why not prepare for the future? Visca Barca.