Manchester United attempting to hijack Barcelona's move for Matthijs de Ligt

Now this would be a statement of intent...

This summer looks like being yet another record breaking one in terms of spending and one of the biggest deals will undoubtedly that of Ajax prodigy Matthijs de Ligt.

The 19 year-old skippered the Amsterdam outfit to a domestic double along with the semi-finals of the Champions League, firmly establishing himself as one of European footballs finest centre-backs and playing far beyond his tender years.

Ajax are keen to retain him but the Eredivise Champions have accepted that there's plenty of wealthy clubs interested in their star man and they simply can't afford to stand in their way.

Frenkie De Jong has already moved onto Barcelona for €75m whilst the likes of Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech and David Neres have all been linked with big money moves. But the one that they'll be keen to keep is de Ligt.

The 19 year-old has taken on the responsibility of being club captain magnificently and driven Ajax to unprecedented success this season, which has led to his price tag soaring. For months now he's been expected to join his former teammate and international colleague De Jong in moving to Catalonia, with Barca seeing him as the natural replacement for the ageing Gerard Pique.

Matthijs de Ligt Frenkie De Jong
Matthijs De Ligt has been expected to join former Ajax teammate Frenkie De Jong at the Nou Camp, but United's offer has changed things

But of late there's been some stumbling blocks that are preventing the transfer from getting over the line. Barca need to raise the funds to finance this massive transfer along with that of Antoine Griezmann, who they're keen to sign from Atletico Madrid. But the World Cup winner has a huge release clause in excess of £100m which their rivals are demanding.

The more this saga drags on the more it looks like Barca could be outdone, with Spanish news outlet Sport reporting that Manchester United are attempting to hijack the deal. The Red Devils are in desperate need of new recruits for the upcoming campaign and signing de Ligt would be a HUGE statement of intent. They certainly have the funds to do it.

Barca stalling gives United hope

Barcelona remain 1/4 favourites (SkyBet) to get this transfer over the line but the longer they continue to stall, the more confident rival clubs will become.

It's believed that the La Liga Champions have had agreements in place with de Ligt and controversial agent Mino Raiola since April when the two parties meant in Monte Carlo - but we all know how notoriously difficult this man is to deal with.

The success that the 19 year-old has enjoyed has led to Raiola going back on said agreement, trying to get more money out of Barcelona and as of yet the Catalonians have refused to give in. The hierarchy of the club know what a special player he is and how he could go on to achieve big things, but they're not willing to give into Raiola's demands - instead remaining firm on their original offer.

It's good to see the club standing up to an agent, especially one with the history of Raiola. But the reality is if Barca don't pay up, someone else will come in and do it. Step forward Manchester United.

The Red Devils come into the transfer window in arguably their worst state in their modern day history. A sixth placed finish and a huge 53 goals conceded in the Premier League along with a failure to qualify for the Champions League make grim reading and they desperately need to add quality to their side.

Mathijas De Ligt
de Ligt may just be 19 years-old but he's already established himself as one of the worlds best defenders

They're no way near as an attractive proposition as that of Barcelona but they're still one of the biggest clubs in the world and have the resources to go for any player. They can blow their rivals out of the water so Barca are clearly relying on sporting factors to get the deal over the line.

Playing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and good friend De Jong, along with a much better chance of silverware should sway him to join them. But with Raiola brokering the transfer anything is possible.

This guy is disliked by many in football but he does knows how to get big deals over the line, especially when Manchester United are involved. In recent years he's got Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba lucrative transfers to Old Trafford so it's certainly a possibility. But United need to offer a lot of money to counter Barca's current deal, which isn't helped by the Red Devils failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Is it possible?

Well from a sporting point of view, you'd say no. Barcelona are a club that every player would find difficult to say no to. They boast the worlds best players, regularly win trophies, can offer big contracts and give you the chance to live in one of Europe's most vibrant cities.

But from a financial and possibly playing time perspective, United do have a bit of hope. Their relations with Mino Raiola stand them in good stead and they have the funds to eclipse any deal that Barcelona can offer. At Old Trafford he'd be a guaranteed starter week-in-week-out and he would be representing one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Barcelona have admitted that "economic factors" have played a part in this deal stalling which is believed to be United's interest. They've offered Ajax a bigger fee and the player a bigger deal, which is rumoured to be around the €14m a year mark, staggering numbers. Which means it's all down to Raiola and de Ligt now.

Manchester City have also been linked but they're believed to be reluctant to get involved with the players agent, so it looks like a straight shootout between the two clubs.

United are still a massive club but SURELY they can't pull this one off, can they?


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