The transfer saga involving Matthijs de Ligt is very likely to be the most captivating one of the ongoing summer transfer window, if it isn’t already. There is little surprise that the young defender is a Mino Raiola agent, as every rumor sounds like an attempt to get the most out of Barcelona.
The expectation, as it stands, is that the saga will drag on for a while. Clubs like Barca, Man United, PSG and Juventus continue to get linked and the situation keeps on changing with every hour.
Barca still seem the closest, with Frenkie de Jong being a massive reason. The Catalans continue to see De Ligt as a long-term replacement for Gerard Pique and possibly see Clement Lenglet and the Dutchman as a defensive pairing.
But the question that arises immediately is whether Pique is ready to be replaced already. He is still one of the best defenders in the world and starts regularly for Barcelona. Bringing De Ligt in would allow him to rest easy despite still being at his prime.
But if Barca are shelling out big money on De Ligt, they just have to start him regularly or it will prove to be another planless piece of business like Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho turned out to be. They need to have a plan in place before he joins.
Man Utd present a chance for De Ligt to possibly develop and use the club as a stepping stone. Where United currently are, he could possibly play the role Virgil van Dijk has played for Liverpool. His presence at United could spearhead a revolution that the leaderless club needs.
De Ligt is a leader and has that confident swagger about himself despite being a teenager. That is something United have lacked. He could lead the charge for United going into the future and if United do become a consistent Champions League competitor, he should stay in the long-term.
PSG too are a very interesting option. The aging Thiago Silva isn’t someone who can be replaced by a player like Thilo Kehrer. Marquinhos is certainly a world class defender on his day, but the pair of the Brazilian and De Ligt can elevate PSG to another level in European competition.
The Dutchman is the leader that Silva is and fits the bill of playing a possession-oriented system under Thomas Tuchel.
For Juventus, it seems tough to see anything beyond the centre-back pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci get seen as a regular first-choice. Maurizio Sarri’s 4-3-3 system does love ball-playing defenders but Chiellini is already one.
With Andrea Barzagli retired and Merih Demiral arriving and Daniele Rugani extending his deal, it is tough to see how much De Ligt would play in Turin. Demiral is a wonderful defender- an upgrade on Rugani and the options for Juve are endless in that department.
De Ligt too has multiple options himself. His decision would be forced by how much money the potential suitor is offering but it should not be dictated by solely that factor. The project should appeal to him more than the money.