De Ligt set to be Sarri's first buy

TURIN • The 19-year-old Ajax Amsterdam captain Matthijs de Ligt has agreed to join Italian Serie A champions Juventus, Sky Italy reported yesterday.

According to the report, the fee is £62 million (S$107 million) for the centre-back, who was one of Ajax's key players in their thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and the Dutch title.

He will become new Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri's first signing. The 60-year-old Italian was appointed as Massimiliano Allegri's successor last week and unveiled at a press conference on Thursday.

De Ligt said earlier this month that he was asked about a move to Juventus by the eight-time defending Serie A champions' star Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of the Nations League final, where Portugal beat the Netherlands 1-0.

"I didn't understand him at first. I was a little shocked, so I laughed. But I didn't say anything," he told the Netherlands' NOS television.

"So soon after the game, you are not at all concerned with it.

"You are disappointed you have lost and that is the only thing you are thinking about."

Spanish media reported that the Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain target was expected to join Barcelona and link up with Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong, 22.

De Ligt broke into the Ajax first team aged just 17 in 2016. He became a regular starter the following season and was soon the most-coveted defender in Europe thanks to his strength, anticipation and ability on the ball.

Italian reports yesterday also had United midfielder Paul Pogba making a "come-and-get-me" phone call to Sarri. The former Juventus player recently said he was ready for a new challenge.

Despite Pogba being a crucial peg in the United rebuilding process after they finished sixth in the Premier League, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may be forced to let the Frenchman go if the club allow.

It was reported that only £100 million will be available for transfers this close season, with £15 million already spent on Daniel James from Swansea. Any further arrivals will be dependant on player sales.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 23, 2019, with the headline 'De Ligt set to be Sarri's first buy'. Print Edition | Subscribe