Barcelona senior figure compares Matthijs De Ligt transfer to Man Utd with move to China
The idea of De Ligt moving to Old Trafford has not gone down well at Barcelona
It's still relatively early days yet, but the signs are there that Matthijs de Ligt's potential move away from Ajax has all the makings of being the transfer saga of the summer.
The 19-year-old Dutch defender had appeared poised to follow Ajax teammate and close friend Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona at the end of the season, though the LaLiga champions have yet to tie up a deal for him.
In recent weeks, it's emerged that several other top European clubs are monitoring the situation very closely, with Premier League trio Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United all said to be keen on signing him.
Despite not being able to offer Champions League football next season, most reports have suggested United are very much in the race for De Ligt, having offered a significantly higher financial package to the teenager than the one tabled by Barca.
This, according to Miguel Delaney of the Independent, hasn't gone down too well with the Spanish champions. In a report discussing the difficulties United face in the transfer market as they seek to rebuild their squad this summer, a senior Barca figure is quoted as comparing a move to Old Trafford for De Ligt with a transfer to the Chinese Super League.
"With the state they’re in, it’s not far off picking the Chinese league, career-wise," they are quoted as saying when told of rumours that De Ligt may move to United over Barca. "It’d be sacrificing development and ambition for money in the same way."
Several high-profile European-based players have made moves to China in recent seasons. Though the standard of the league is significantly below many of Europe's top leagues, they have each been able to make substantially more in wages.
De Ligt is likely to feature for the Netherlands as they take on England in the Uefa Nations League semi-finals in Portugal on Thursday. His future is likely to be decided after the finals have been concluded.