5 Defenders Barcelona should target instead of de Ligt
It is no exaggeration to state that Matthijs de Ligt is probably the most wanted player in world football right now.
The 19-year-old's career has grown from strength to strength since he burst onto the scene as a precocious 16-year-old in 2016.
Possessing all the attributes of an outstanding centre-back: aggression, pace, intelligence, aerial ability, technique and leadership, his future has been the source of constant speculation for over two years now.
A roll-call of his would-be suitors is like a calling of the creme-de-la-creme of European football: FC Barcelona, both Manchester clubs: City and United, Juventus, Bayern Munich, PSG, Liverpool, Real Madrid and so on.
FC Barcelona had long been seen as favourites due to their established relationship with Ajax. Having already secured the other outstanding young talent; Frenkie De Jong, it was thought that getting de Ligt in would be a matter of WHEN and not IF.
However, the player's agent, Mino Raiola has been hawking his services in a way that may make the Catalans miss out on signing the player. The wage demands; reported to be £240,000-per week is the main stumbling block.
With Samuel Umtiti rumoured to be on his way out, Barca will need another centre-back but given the already bloated salary structure, they can ill-afford to factor in de Ligt's demands.
Here is a look at 5 other centre-backs they could target instead of the Dutch wonderkid:
#5 Manuel Akanji (Borussia Dortmund)
The £15 million fee that Borussia Dortmund paid to get the Swiss international from FC Basel is going to look like a bargain in the coming years.
Akanji was a mainstay of the BVB team that ran Bayern Munich close for the Bundesliga title last season.
Very good in the air and possessing the passing range required of a defender for Barca, he is aggressive in tackling and marking and knows exactly when to take one for the team.
His can-do attitude and fearlessness do not detract from his on-the-ball skills as he is excellent at bringing the ball out of defence. If signed, Akanji could provide the tenacity that was lacking in the team's UCL collapse at Anfield and the Copa del Rey final loss to Valencia.
Despite not being the tallest centre-back in the world, Akanji can be an aerial threat for the team going forward and a bulwark against aerial attacks at the back.
It is unclear just how much Dortmund will ask for him. However, given the bad blood that existed following the Ousmane Dembele transfer, Dortmund are expected to squeeze as much as they can out of Josep Bartomeu, the club's supremo.