Matthijs de Ligt – the name probably every football fan thinks or searches about at least once in a day. The Dutchman is the cynosure of all eyes as a number of European heavyweights are trying to battle out each other to notch his services.
He has notched 1.2 tackles and interceptions per game and won 3.2 aerial duels on an average per game. He is a ball-playing defender making 3 long passes per game and has a passing accuracy of 88.8%.
Barcelona are one of the clubs in the fray trying to pull out all the stops to sign the 19-year-old, who is apparently the best future defensive prospect for them. The Catalans have already negotiated a move with the player but the entry of filthy rich clubs like PSG and Manchester United mean they are reluctant to increase the bid further, thereby risking the possibility of the player slipping through their fingers.
While there are a lot of emotions at stake with fans of almost every club pining to see him in their respective colours, Barcelona could still satisfy their supporters by looking for alternatives in case the Ajax skipper breaks millions of Catalonian hearts and rejects the idea of coming to the Nou Camp.
Matthijs De Ligt is valued at €75m in the transfer market – a whopping fee which could force Barcelona for cheaper options.
Ruben Dias (Benfica)
Market Value: €32m
Benfica center-back Ruben Dias has raised eyebrows throughout season 2018/19 with a string of noteworthy performances under his belt. Pretty much, the 22-year-old’s robust display against The Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League final has all but strengthened his reputation as an elite defender for the future.
With de Ligt increasingly looking beyond reach, Barcelona could as well give Dias a look. The Benfica center-back has already triggered the interest of Manchester United, who are also eyeing him as an alternative should they miss out on de Ligt.
Dias is a quintessential no-nonsense defender with a clearance rate of 3.7 per game. While he will add as much steel as de Ligt would, the Portuguese would also command a lesser fee in contrast to the Dutchman. What’s more, the Catalans will also face no stiff competition to acquire his services.
It remains to be seen if Barca do show an interest in Ruben Dias. If they do so, the Portuguese would be nothing short of an absolute coup for them.
Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
Market Value: €60m
German center-back Niklas Sule is one of the best emerging defenders in the world right now. Having signed for Bayern Munich, the 23-year-old has smoothly established himself as a starter for the Bavarians.
Sule has sturdy built just like de Ligt and is a threat to reckon when it comes to aerial duels. On average, the German wins 2.6 aerial duels per game; his strong attributes in the air make him a valuable addition both on the offensive and defensive fronts.
Sule is also a brilliant long passer of the ball. He averages a whopping 5.2 long balls per game and could help the Blaugrana build attacks from the back. He is also a fine passer, notching a pass success rate of 93% per game.
The only problem with signing Niklas Sule is Barcelona would have to work hard to convince both the player and the club to part ways with each other. However, if they do succeed, the Catalans certainly won’t regret missing out on Matthijs de Ligt.
Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
Market Value: €40m
The German Bundesliga has been brimming with a plethora of young talent worth watching. Amongst a number of young starlets making it through, Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah has made quite a name for himself.
The 23-year-old has effectively established himself as a first-choice center-back at the German outfit and has a vast experience of first-team football, having made over 100 appearances for the club.
As an upcoming prospect, Tah has a lot of fine attributes in his locker to showcase. He is a tall, well-built defender excellent in aerial duels. He wins 2.2 aerial duels on an average per game.
Tah is also a good tackler and ball winner, making 1.4 tackles per game and 1.3 interceptions per game. He is also good at dishing out long balls, making 3.9 successful long passes per game. The 23-year-old is also a fine passer and averages a pass success rate of 89.6% per game.
With all those good numbers, the German will no doubt be an asset to any team he plays for. Given his age, Jonathan Tah also presents a long-term solution to Barcelona’s defence, with Gerard Pique steadily approaching the twilight of his career.