Josep María Bartomeu, the Barcelona president, took charge of negotiations personally to get the deal foro Frenkie de Jong over the line. And the Barça chief has been done the same to make sure the deal for De Jong's Ajax teammate Matthijs de Ligt gets over the line.
With the Ajax captain, who is still just 19, the path has been the same as the one which led to De Jong. With one big difference: he had to talk with Mino Raiola, the defender's agent, who asks for huge amounts of commission and looks to start auctions on his players.
Barça have been fortune that the player, despite his youth, is mature and lets his voice be heard. And his desire, for a while, has been to follow De Jong to Camp Nou. Once Barça knew that and that he would turn down the other options (like Juventus and Bayern Munich) they did everything they could to make sure that would be the case.
While talking with the player, Barça have always informed Ajax of their movements and have a loose agreement in place with the Dutch club. The fee will be around 70 million euros.
Now it's just a case of closing the deal officially. When will that be possible? In recent weeks, things have changed slightly with De Ligt's continued growth. His Champions League performances have made his suitors go 'crazy' and offer big money, more than Barça offered in their most recent meeting. It's worth saying here that Barça, De Ligt and Raiola have met face to face on three occasions in three different cities.
Before May 24
SPORT have learned that the player's intention is, once the Dutch season ends (Ajax have their final game on Wednesday and will win the league bar a miracle), to enjoy 10 days off before he has to join up with the Dutch national team on May 24. Holland are preparing for th UEFA Nations League Final Four. They have England in the semifinal. Before that, De Ligt wants his future tied down. He's waiting for Barça's final push.
Barcelona don't plan on communicating anything before the Copa del Rey final in Seville on May 25. During that time, the two parties will meet again to try and close an agreement once and for all. And if that goes well, the club want to announce the signing after the cup final.