According to a report in the Mirror, Arsenal are interested in securing the signature of Ajax teenage defender Matthijs De Ligt.
With Per Mertesacker’s retirement imminent, and the fact that Laurent Koscielny is turning 33 later this year, the club are well in the process of rejuvenating the team’s back line. Shkodran Mustafi is an at excellent player, and at the age of 25, he’s about to enter his prime as a defender. Calum Chambers has hardly cemented a spot in the starting XI, but considering the time he’s been around, it’s very easy to forget he’s still only 23. Rob Holding turns 23 in September, while the Gunners’ first signing of the year, Konstantinos Mavropanos, is 20.
De Ligt has recently broken into the Dutch national team, and despite being 18, he’s a first-choice centre-back at Ajax and has already drawn plenty of interest from around Europe. Apparently, he has been observed by Arsenal scouts on international duty.
He played 84 minutes in Holland’s win against European champions Portugal, and he had plenty of work to do against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. Starting alongside Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, he helped the Oranje keep a clean sheet.
Against England he played on the right side of a back-three, with van Dijk on the left and Lazio’s Stefan de Vrij in the middle. He displayed extreme pace, matching that of Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Spurs’ Danny Rose, as well as audacity to have a go from range, apart from his usual quality defensive traits.
There would of course be potential issues that might deter the Gunners from going fully in for his signature. His breakout into the world of international football will probably raise his price significantly. Quite apart from that, Barcelona have also expressed an interest in his services, along with several other clubs that might be willing to fork out more than Arsenal at the moment.
There is still a long way to go before the summer transfer window opens, so it’s hard to rule anything out at this point. But should Arsenal sign de Ligt, they would certainly be getting a fine young player.