Ajax youngster Matthijs de Ligt has reportedly taken a step closer to joining Serie A side Juventus, despite long term interest from Barcelona and Manchester City.
The 19-year-old is widely tipped as a star of the future, and has already made 11 senior international appearances for the resurgent Netherlands. Understandably, a host of elite European clubs have be circling him like vultures in recent months, including the likes of Premier League champions Manchester City and Catalan giants Barcelona.
According to Italian outlet CalcioMercato, Juventus have now emerged as frontrunners to sign the prodigious youngster, who has apparently accepted an invitation to visit the club in Turin. The report claims that the serial Serie A winners will look to convince the player to join them over his other potential suitors.
Arguably, Barcelona are in greatest need of De Ligt's services, given their dire defensive situation at the moment. The player's maturity and composure could see him start games regularly, as the likes of Gerard Piqué are gradually ushered towards retirement. Meanwhile, Manchester City could recruit De Ligt as a long term replacement for Vincent Kompany.
Juventus' current central defence partnership of Leonardo Bonucci and Medhi Benatia have a combined age of 62, so their manager Massimiliano Allegri may well be looking to bring some fresh legs into the side as they look to plan for the future. I Bianconeri have won seven consecutive league titles, and are already six points clear at the top of the table this season.
In other news, Allegri praised his side's reaction after they recovered from their midweek Champions League loss to Manchester United and beat AC Milan 2-0 on Sunday evening. I Bianconeri dominated the game and ran out comfortable winners, with goals from Mario Mandžukić and summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo sealing the win.