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Marca: Atlético to go for Matthijs de Ligt

Ajax’s teenage captain is wanted by many of Europe’s elite.

Real Madrid v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Madrid-based daily Marca have reported that Atlético Madrid would like to sign Ajax center back Matthijs de Ligt this summer — but they will face stern competition for his services.

The 19-year-old is regarded as one of the best — if not the best — young central defenders on the planet, and he did his reputation no harm after he marshaled his side to a stunning 4-1 win over Real Madrid on Tuesday night. That result knocked the holders out of the Champions League for the first time in nearly four years.

De Ligt — who at his tender age already has 13 national team appearances — is wanted by Barcelona, who in January signed up his teammate Frenkie De Jong for next season. However, a team with a more immediate need for the Dutchman may be Atlético, who stand to lose both Diego Godín (to Inter Milan) and Lucas Hernández (to Bayern Munich) this summer. If Lucas follows Godín out the door — which remains probable assuming Bayern pay his €80 million buyout clause, per Marca — the newspaper says Atleti will reinvest that money in one of European football’s brightest young stars.

De Ligt would almost certainly become Atlético’s record signing should the club manage to get a deal over the line — and it might take more than €80 million to tempt the Dutch giants to sell their defensive pearl. But still, de Ligt next to José Giménez for the foreseeable future is awfully salivating to imagine.