In the not too distant past, Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, suggested that he ‘knew’ where Matthijs De Ligt’s next playing destination would be.
The inference was that the Ajax captain would follow his former team-mate, Frenkie De Jong, to the Camp Nou.
It’s thought that a deal had been agreed between both clubs, though the meddling of the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, has ensured that De Ligt will be plying his trade elsewhere.Even De Ligt‘s family believed that Barca were the perfect destination for him, but money has won that particular argument.
That is his prerogative of course, though the inclusion of a €150m release clause suggests that another move may soon be on the cards.
In any event, De Ligt’s refusal to join the Blaugrana has not only freed up cash to be able to sign Neymar, but has allowed Jean-Clair Todibo to become the fourth centre-back for Barca’s first team in 2019/20.
Thomas Vermaelen has left the club, and so with Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet vying for the starting berth on the left side of central defence, Todibo can push Gerard Pique hard on the right side.
At just 19 years of age, the world really is the youngster’s oyster at this point.
Not really given a chance last season, and thought to be on the verge of going out on loan for the forthcoming campaign, fate has dealt him a wondrous hand, and he will get his opportunities at Barca after all.
In the short amount of time that he did get with the first team in 2018/19, he certainly impressed. A silky exponent, his game is enhanced by his strength.
His range of passing and accuracy therein befits a player with more experience, and his timing in the tackle is, more often than not, exquisite.
In all facets, he is very much the modern day defender, and all he needs now is the match time to gain experience.
Unlike De Ligt, Todibo will happily bide his time, and aim to grasp the nettle when available.
His emergence will also allow Ernesto Valverde to rotate Pique much more often than he did in the previous campaign, when the defender was one of the most used players in all competitions.
What seemed like a disastrous situation has been turned into a positive… with €75m saved into the bargain.