Monday, March 27, 2023

Barcelona Closing In On The Capture Of Dutch Defensive Gem: What It Means For The Defence

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

According to Sky Sports, Barcelona are all set to complete the transfer of Matthijs de Ligt. The young defender is nearing his move to Catalonia, amid interest from Juventus, Manchester United and Bayern. He is believed to be valued around £65 million by Ajax, making him one of the most expensive teenagers in world football.

But, his addition to the club will undoubtedly serve as a massive boost for Barcelona as they aim to make a mark in Europe next season. De Ligt has already played a critical role in Ajax’s road to reaching the semi-final in this season’s UEFA Champions League. And the Barca hierarchy will believe that the young Dutchman can help them win the coveted tournament for the first time since 2015.

However, at the age of 19, it is vital for Barcelona to nurture him properly if they are to groom him into a world class defender. Hence, it will be interesting to see how Ernesto Valverde utilises his qualities next season,

De Ligt’s potential addition to the club could pave the way for Samuel Umtiti to Barcelona. The Frenchman is reportedly furious with the way Valverde has treated him since his injury earlier in the season. And he is even willing to join arch-rivals Real Madrid this summer.

As for Clement Lenglet, we can expect him to continue his role alongside Gerard Pique at the heart of Barcelona’s four-man backline. The ex-Sevilla defender has been preferred to Umtiti for the most of this campaign, and his experience and positioning sense will once again be crucial for the Blaugrana next season.

That means de Ligt will have to prove himself if he is to make himself a first-team regular at Barcelona. But even then, the similarities between him and Pique in terms of style of play will make it difficult for Valverde to deploy them both in central defence, especially when someone like Lenglet offers aggression and mobility.

Elsewhere, Thomas Vermaelen has become a forgotten figure at Barcelona after struggling from injuries and lack of opportunities. But, the experienced Belgian will still provide additional competition for the two central defensive roles. Fortunately for de Ligt, however, Pique is already nearing the final phase of his career. The Spanish international will turn 33 midway through next season. That means de Ligt can be considered as the ideal long-term replacement for the experienced Barcelona defender.

But, in the meantime, it will not be surprising to see the 19-year-old struggling with lack of opportunities if he does end up at Catalonia this summer. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Dutchman.

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