“His name is on the table, for sure.”
That’s how FC Barcelona president is categorizing the signing of Matthijs de Ligt publicly. Barça are making no secret of the fact that they are enamored by the Ajax defender, despite the fact that the team is already stacked at the position.
Publicly, Bartomeu said only that they had to talk about it in March, and only then will a decision be made. But rumors about what’s going on behind the scenes suggest the Catalans may have already come to a conclusion.
Diario SPORT reports that Barcelona’s scouts and staff are convinced by the player’s quality. Ramon Planes and Bojan Krkić Sr., who are part of Barça’s technical staff, were said to have been present as Ajax eliminated Real Madrid from the UEFA Champions League with a shocking 4-1 triumph.
Reports say Barcelona were once again thrilled with the performance of Frenkie de Jong, who will join next season, and also that of De Ligt.
Barça will not have it easy, with many top European teams looking to sign him. The newest rumor is that Ajax’s sporting director, Marc Overmars, could join Arsenal and take De Ligt with him.
There’s also the trouble that at the moment, Barça have 6 senior defenders in the squad. Thomas Vermaelen and Jeison Murillo are unlikely to remain with the club next season, and Jean-Clair Todibo could be loaned. That would still leave four defenders in the squad: Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, and then, De Ligt.
Umtiti’s fitness could be key. He’s missed a huge portion of the season due to a knee injury that might still require surgery. If he is not fit, it’s easier to imagine a world where Barça splits time more or less evenly between Piqué, Lenglet, and De Ligt. (Though even that is quite a stacked situation.)
But if not, there surely is no way the team can keep four brilliant (not to mention costly) defenders in the same squad, is there?plits time r