Liverpool's hopes of signing Ajax's wonderkid defender Matthijs de Ligt appear to be fading rapidly, as reports has claimed that Barcelona are becoming increasingly confident of signing the player in a £60m deal.
The 19-year-old sensation has been on the wish list of a host of elite clubs, with the Reds tipped as one of the most likely of the Premier League sides to make a move. De Ligt's Netherlands teammate Virgil van Dijk even hinted at Liverpool's interest, leading Reds fans to dream of the pair linking up at Anfield to showcase their formidable defensive partnership.
According to the Mirror, Barça see de Ligt as an ideal candidate to be Gerard Piqué's long term successor at the club, and will fight tooth and nail to beat their rivals to his signature. A number of elite clubs, include the Catalan giants, are believed to have sent scouts to watch him in action for the national team against France in their 2-0 UEFA Nations League win on Friday.
Adding fuel to the fire, Ajax sporting director Mark Overmars also admitted (via Marca) that he didn't think the club would be able to hang on to de Ligt or his similarly prodigious teammate Frenkie de Jong for much longer.
He said: "It will be difficult to retain these players who are in the newspapers every day because of the interest of other clubs.
"Last year we managed to keep the group together and we only sold (Justin) Kluivert, but it won't be possible to keep this group of talented players together for the coming years."
Meanwhile, Liverpool could turn their attentions to Real Sociedad defender Diego Llorente as a possible alternative, with manager Jürgen Klopp thought to be a keen admirer of the 25-year-old. The former Los Blancos youth player has flourished since joining Txuri-urdinak last season, and could be ready to pursue a fresh challenge in the Premier League.