Bad news for Manchester United with Barcelona scouting 18-year-old defender

According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have entered the race for Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt. The 18-year-old has risen through the youth ranks to the first-team and is now a regular at the heart of the backline.

De Ligt has made 27 Eredivisie appearances this season, recently captaining the side to wins over Heerenveen on March 11 and Sparta Rotterdam a week later. His performances have led to a number of clubs interested in his signature, which could lead to a bidding war this summer.

Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal have been linked with the Netherlands international. The S*n say Barca could be lining up the teenager as a long-term replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, a former Ajax defender, who has endured an injury-hit stint at the Camp Nou.

Manchester United have been eyeing up defensive recruits with the futures of Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo unknown. Manchester City could be replacing Vincent Kompany, with the Belgian international struggling with injuries and in the eve of his career.

Arsenal also need centre-backs, as Per Mertesacker is retiring in the summer and Laurent Koscielny turns 33 in September and has been struggling with a chronic achilles injury. Manchester United may have a tough task in landing his signature as a result of all the competition.

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