Arsenal Join Race to Sign 19-Year-Old Ajax Defender

Arsenal have emerged as surprise contenders to sign Ajax centre-back Matthijs De Ligt, according to The Sun.

The 19-year-old Dutch defender has worked with Gunners legends Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars in Amsterdam and is an admirer of the north London club.  

But Arsenal boss Unai Emery will have to expand his summer transfer budget by qualifying for the Champions League and selling Mesut Ozil — to wipe his £350,000-a-week off the wage bill — to be able to meet Ajax’s £70million valuation.

It is understood Emery will have a budget of just £40m if he fails to finish in the top four — or qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League — in his debut Premier League campaign.

De Ligt has made 59 appearances for the Eredivisie club scoring 10 goals, and has already been handed the Ajax captaincy.

But Manchester City consider him a long-term option to eventually succeed Vincent Kompany.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has also shown an interest in acquiring the centre-back to compete with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Serie A giants Juventus are also preparing to bid for De Ligt at the end of the season.

Ajax team-mate Frenkie De Jong has already agreed to join Barcelona, but it is believed the Spanish club will prioritise the signing of a forward in the summer.

De Ligt, who joined Ajax at the age of nine, became the first defender to win the Golden Boy award last season.