By Craig Kemp
Last Updated: 17th July 2019
“Cristiano asked me to join Juventus. I was slightly shocked by the question, this is why I was laughing. I hadn’t understood what he said originally.”
This was a comment from Matthijs de Ligt in the aftermath of Holland’s 1-0 defeat to Portugal in the UEFA Nations League final and ups the levels of Scoville Scale spice in relation to where the teenage defender will be plying his trade next season.
It seems a foregone conclusion that the 19-year-old will depart Ajax in the coming weeks, but with a list of suitors as long as the arm of former NFL star Alex Barron, De Ligt is not short of options.
Paris Saint-Germain currently head the betting at 6/5 in terms of who De Ligt will sign for before 3rd September, with Barcelona, Liverpool, Man Utd, Juventus and Man City also viable alternatives.
All we know for now is that De Ligt, who has made 65 appearances for club and country this season, wants to enjoy a well-earned holiday and that he will make a decision on his future once he returns.
Here’s a greater breakdown of the pros and cons of three of the clubs in the running to secure his signature.
De Ligt is a client of well-known super-agent Mino Raiola and if speculation is to be believed, Raiola is chasing a minimum wage of £250,000 a week for his client.
If money is the main objective for the Dutchman, then PSG looks the best option.
De Ligt has also stated that he’s a believer that it’s “important that a young player plays” and he will certainly be a regular starter in France, as 34-year-old Thiago Silva is phased out.
However, how much he’ll really be tested given PSG’s dominance over their domestic rivals in Ligue 1 is open for debate and may limit his progress.
Barca club officials reportedly remain confident that they can lure De Ligt to the Nou Camp, even if the Ajax youngster could earn more at PSG.
He would seem a natural long-term successor to 32-year-old Gerard Pique at the heart of the defence and this is a position that needs recruitment for the Catalan club, given alternate options Clement Longlet, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen are all left-footed.
In Barca’s favour too is that they have just recruited Frenkie de Jong, the other current young Dutch starlet from Ajax, while Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen is also on hand to put in a good word.
Apparently, Barca number one Cillesson has done his bit to encourage De Jong to join.
Should De Ligt head to Anfield, he’ll become their highest current earner, based on Raiola’s supposed wage demands.
Is now the time Liverpool plan to break their wage structure? And paying a 19-year-old more than any of the players that have just helped Liverpool win the Champions League, including both Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah based on existing salaries?
For De Ligt, the chance to play alongside Holland defensive teammate Van Dijk is an obvious pull, although for Liverpool, this may stifle the progression somewhat of Joe Gomez.