After capturing the mercurial talent of Frenkie De Jong, it appears that Barcelona are in pole position to sign his current Ajax team-mate, Matthijs De Ligt.
The 19-year-old centre-back is wanted by all of Europe’s top clubs but has allegedly told those close to him that he ‘only wants Barcelona.’
That’s a real coup for the Catalans, who see De Ligt as a future captain of the club and a player who’ll be a mainstay in their defence for the next decade.However, his arrival could spell the start of a ‘domino effect’ at the Camp Nou.
To begin with, the club will move on Thomas Vermaelen and won’t take up the option on Jeison Murillo. The most pressing concern will be what to do with Jean-Clair Todibo, who many in the game believe has a bright future.
Gerard Pique won’t be leaving anytime soon, ditto Clement Lenglet, so where does that leave Samuel Umtiti, who is still steadfastly refusing to go under the knife for his niggling knee concerns?
Given that the Frenchman could fetch somewhere in the region of €70-€80 million in the current market, inconceivable though it may have seemed a few months ago, there’s a school of thought which suggests the Blaugrana might be prepared to cash in.
With it an open secret that Barca’s age bill is sky-high and needs to be reduced, sales in the region of €250 million isn’t too far wide of the mark. What that means, however, is that this could be a real summer of change for Barcelona.
Jasper Cillessen could be tempted to stay on and help his countrymen settle in, but if truth be told, he’s far too good to be sitting on the bench week in and week out.
Perhaps a swap deal for former La Masia graduate, Andre Onana, currently at Ajax, isn’t out of the question.
The futures of both Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho are also under scrutiny. Certainly both would command a hefty transfer fee, but the former has been a mainstay under Ernesto Valverde, whilst selling the latter, Barca’s record signing, would be an admission of failure.
Malcom is another who could depart, primarily because of the amount of revenue he could bring in. A little short-sighted of the club perhaps, because the Brazilian has been excellent when given a run in the side.
The big risk for the club is whether such wholesale changes will really upset the equilibrium of the team, but if they intend to build the group around the two Dutch generational talents in the longer term, then clearly something drastic needs to happen over the summer.
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