The sporting department at FC Barcelona, led by Pep Segura alongside Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes, are aware that there's an issue when it comes to certain options at centre back. With Yerry Mina joining Everton and the recent signing of Clement Lenglet, there's only one right-footed centre back in the squad (Gerard Pique) and three left-footed ones (Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen).
Whilst this might not be a major issue it prevents the club from giving Pique a rest because there's no viable alternative in the squad. "I can't be rotated because there's no substitute for me." Barça have been searching the market for someone to allow Pique, who turns 32 in February, to sufficiently recover between matches over a long season.
To replace what Pique brings to the side is no easy task. Barça want to a sign a defender with personality, quality and with huge room for growth. And it appears they might have found their needle in a haystack in the form of Ajax's Matthijs de Ligt. Despite only being 19 years old, he's already the captain of the famous Dutch outfit and has been capped nine times by his country.
De Ligt is physically imposing and that's why he's been able to play in age categories ahead of his time. Aside from his tall frame, he's a footballer who reads the game incredibly well and is comfortable using both feet, although he is stronger with his left foot. This season he's predominantly played on the right side of two centre backs. De Ligt is extremely strong in the air which makes him a danger in the opposition's penalty area too.
He's a graduate from Ajax's famous academy, made his debut at just 17 years of age and his current deal runs until 2021. The price tag on his head stands at around €50m although that's only certain to climb as more and more clubs become interested in the young talent.
Alongside De Jong, not instead of
The signing of De Ligt is alongside the potential incorporation of Frenkie De Jong. The negotiations between Barcelona and De Jong began even before Robert Fernandez left the club. However Marc Overmas is reluctant to let his star men leave as he looks to rebuild Ajax's reputation both domestically and in Europe.
De Jong is capable of playing at centre back as well as in midfield but he's more dangerous higher up the pitch. This is why he's viewed as a potential replacement for Sergio Busquets. The issue, as is the case with De Ligt, is the interest of other European sides which will force the asking price to rise beyond what Barcelona are willing to pay.
Barça's history with Dutch footballers means that should the two moves be pulled off, it could only mean good things for the Camp Nou faithful.