Former Ajax star Ronald de Boer set pulses racing in the Liverpool transfer speculator community recently when he mentioned star defender Matthijs de Ligt and the Merseyside club in the same sentence, hinting that the young Dutch international should keep the Reds in mind when deciding whether or not to leave the Eredivisie this summer.
Of course, de Boer did also mention Barcelona and Manchester City as other possible destinations for De Ligt, so it’s not as though Liverpool have a straightforward path towards De Ligt’s services (even assuming the player and the club are so inclined). That path may, however, become just a little bit clearer, given recent comments from Barcelona higher-ups regarding the Catalan club’s own transsfer plans.
The Mirror have reported that Barcelona Vice President Jordi Mestre is not prioritizing central defenders. Having already sealed a deal for one Ajax star in Frenkie de Jong, Barca - if Mestre is to be believed - are content to take a wait and see regarding their summer needs, and are publicly keeping their cards close to the chest as far as De Ligt is concerned.
“I don’t know why they’re saying this because [De Ligt] hasn’t signed,” Mestre reportedly told Sky.
”[Gerard] Pique is evidently one of the best central defenders in the world, if not the best,” added Mestre. “After him, we have players like [Clement] Lenglet, [Samuel] Umtiti and we’ve signed a very young player in [Jean-Clair] Todibo. The defenders we already have are of the highest level.”
Taken at face value, those comments might mean one fewer suitor/competitor in the Matthijs de Ligt sweepstakes. Whether or not Liverpool are actually in the market will likely not stop the proliferation of these stories.
If one of Dejan Lovren or Joël Matip is allowed to leave over the summer, Liverpool might actually be on the lookout for reinforcement among their defenders. On the other hand, interested clubs will have to deal with De Ligt’s representative Mino Raiola, whose reputation sometimes precedes him - to the extent that otherwise interested parties might think twice.