Real Madrid have emerged as the latest potential threat to Barcelona in their ongoing pursuit of Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, who has become Europe's most talked about player.
Barça have long been considered 'favourites' to sign De Ligt. But the 19-year-old was linked with Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the season, while there was a sudden wave of speculation regarding a possible Manchester United transfer just last week.
But the Catalans, who have already secured an €86m deal for Ajax colleague Frenkie de Jong, appeared to have fought off competition to remain in the driving seat.
Now, however, there is talk that the revelations surrounding Sergio Ramos and his apparent desire to leave Real and move to China could bring Los Blancos into the De Ligt race.
The story comes from Mundo Deportivo, detailing apparent Barça's unwillingness to meet the demands of De Ligt's agent, Mino Raiola. That could be problematic as Paris Saint-Germain are apparently happy to offer a 'blank cheque' to the player. What's more, the same report adds that Real have now been 'put on alert' and have 'set their sights' on De Ligt.
🔴🔵 As we reported 2 days ago, De Ligt was given to Henrique as a target signing this summer. @telegraaf have now confirmed this information. Unlike @fcbarcelona, #PSG will not hesitate to pay the amount of the commission demanded by Raiola (~€10m). pic.twitter.com/P95DpuftEE— Paris United 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@ParisUnitedEN) May 29, 2019
It appears to have firmly knocked Manchester United out of the race, despite claims from he Spanish press that the Old Trafford club had made a 'significantly improved offer' and that Barcelona were no longer 'optimistic' of completing a deal, even if still 'hopeful'.
It has also now been alleged by ESPN that United are prepared to give existing centre-backs Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe a chance to impress during pre-season, with the focus on signing a new right-back instead.
With Eden Hazard seemingly on the verge of finally completing his move to Real, several years after it was first rumoured, De Ligt has fast turned into the transfer saga of the summer.
'Updates' are so frequent that it is hard to keep up, while it has become virtually impossible to verify the accuracy of such reports, with the likelihood that all sides of the table are using media briefings to try and gain an upper hand in the negotiating process.