City hope to win race for second Ajax starlet
Pep Guardiola will now try his luck for Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after missing out on signing his teammate Frenkie de Jong.
Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain brought up the prospect of a summer deal for the impressive teenager during recent negotiations for midfielder De Jong, who on Wednesday snubbed a move to the current Premier League champions in favour of an £80m switch to Barcelona.
City pulled back on De Jong after Ajax raised their original £67m valuation, although Guardiola is prepared to bid even higher to now win the race for De Ligt.
However, just like De Jong, Guardiola faces stiff competition again from his former club Barcelona, who know the Netherlands international pair are firm friends which could tip the balance towards him also going to the Nou Camp.
Reports in Holland cite Ajax insiders stating De Ligt will be allowed to leave the Amsterdam Arena if a club stumps up £85m for their classy academy graduate.
It's understood City had a £52m offer turned down for the 19-year-old 12 months ago, as the player felt it was just too soon to quit his homeland.
Defenders Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi could both be heading for the Etihad exit at the end of the season and Guardiola wants De Ligt to form a future rearguard at City alongside John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.
Nick Harris is a long-standing journalist who specialises in football and rugby league. An avid golfer, Nick also follows the major boxing fights closely.