Football News

‘Matthijs de Ligt has said he hopes to join Barcelona’

By Nick Thompson

Published: 10:13, 13 April 2019

Willem II player Pol Llonch has admitted Matthijs de Ligt told him he ‘hopes’ to go to Barcelona.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, however, is unsure as to whether the Dutch starlet would play ahead of the likes of Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti in centre defence.

Where is De Ligt going this summer? Five key things to know…

  1. The 19-year-old has emerged alongside Frenkie de Jong as the poster boys of Dutch football.
  2. De Ligt started against Man United in the Europa League final in 2017, then just aged 17-years-old.
  3. Midfielder De Jong is set for a £75m summer move to Barca, leading to speculation as to where De Ligt would end up.
  4. Ajax are currently tied 1-1 with Juventus after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
  5. De Ligt has been linked with the likes of Juventus, PSG and more, but it appears he favours a move to the Camp Nou.

Ajax beat Willem II 4-1 last weekend, and the game gave Llonch the opportunity to speak to the Amsterdam players.

Asked about De Ligt’s transfer plans, Llonch told Sport: “I don’t know if they’ve signed him or not! I don’t think so. But if he ends up at Barça, I think the same.

“He’s even younger than De Jong at only 19 years old but is physically strong and defensively sound. It’s difficult to get past him. He’s well organised and always manages to cut out passes.

“He’s [De Ligt] a special character. To be the captain of Ajax at just 19 makes him a different player (to most) and I also think he could adapt well at Barça. It’s true he might need to improve when it comes to playing out from the back to truly excel at Barça but I think he’ll pick that up really quickly.”

Asked about whether De Ligt would be a starter for Barcelona, Llonch replied: “That’s the difficult part. You’ve got Pique, Umtiti, Lenglet. They are so good.

“I don’t know what will happen with Lenglet and Umtiti but Umtiti has jut won the World Cup and Pique is one of the best in the world.

“That’s where De Ligt might not have the same amount of playing time that De Jong will. But I don’t know, that’s a decision for the player, Barça and a question of time.

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“They could trust him straight away and put him into the side. But as I told you, Umtiti and Pique are two of the best centre backs in the world so it’d be difficult.”

Wilhem II and Ajax will contest the KNVB Cup in May, but that didn’t stop Llonch from enquiring about De Ligt’s potential summer moves.

He continued: “To De Ligt, I asked him directly if he would end up signing for Barça and he told me that he hoped so, but that he didn’t know anything at the moment. He said: ‘I hope so.’ I didn’t speak with De Jong.”

Erik ten Hag on De Ligt’s future 

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag has admitted he believes his young defender De Ligt will leave Ajax in the summer, though unlike Llonch, he has no idea where to exactly.

“The chance that De Ligt will stay here is zero,” Ten Hag told Suddeutsche Zeitung. “There are so many teams that have an enormous interest in him. He will leave in the summer, but I don’t know if it will be Bayern Munich or FC Barcelona.

“He really plays like a man now. The team now plays with guts and creativity and that is also because he is the leader. He has a lot of courage. Many Dutch players like to have the ball, but De Ligt also likes to defend. That’s new here. ”

The return of Ajax to the top level of European football has been received warmly by the footballing intelligentsia, with some old enough to remember the glory days and others too young to know the Champions League winning Ajax sides.

The 2018-19 iteration has played some of the best football around in the competition, beating a lacklustre Real Madrid side with a tour de force of Total Football.

For Ten Hag, this success is bitter sweet, in that the Ajax side playing this season will, due in part to its successes, almost certainly change as ‘bigger’ clubs pounce in the summer.

“If we could keep this team together for two years, maybe with two new players, we would be a candidate for the semi-final of the Champions League. But let’s stop that. It is meaningless, those thoughts do not help you. And I can’t change the world. “