Liverpool, Manchester United, and pretty much everyone but Barcelona looks set to miss out on Matthijs de Ligt.
De Ligt, 19, has paired with Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk while in the Netherlands national team set-up, but reportedly is opting to join Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona.
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In the case of Liverpool, Sky Sports says that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp thinks he doesn’t need another center back.
Injuries hit Liverpool’s center backs this season outside of Van Dijk. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren were rated highly and combined for just over 2500 minutes, while young Joe Gomez suffered a long-term injury midway through the season.
If all are healthy, Liverpool has decent depth. Yet even Gomez doesn’t have the upside to shake a stick at De Ligt if the 19-year-old was truly interested in coming to Anfield.
I mean, “Are you interested in this 19-year-old captain of a Champions League semifinalist? He’s interested in coming there” usually doesn’t yield a firm, “No.”
As for Barcelona, it will reinforce its back line a year after allowing 36 goals. That’s pretty decent, but the Blaugranas‘ third-highest total of the last decade.
As Lionel Messi goes for his fifth UEFA Champions League title, it’s worth noting that almost every player hoping to stop him from the crown is chasing their very first title.
(How many others are there, you ask? I’ll answer who later in the post, but there are two).
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Messi is the best player left in the tournament, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, and Paul Pogba all bidding adieu over the past 30 hours, and it’s understandable that the oddsmakers have installed Barca as the favorite to win the tournament (Odds have Barca around 13:8).
The runner-up for favorite status is very close, and we’re sure most of you have guessed it’s not young Ajax (about 5:1 on most boards).
Tottenham Hotspur is on the board at 9:2 after defeating Man City on Wednesday, but it’s Liverpool at about 3:1 who is next in line after Barcelona.
By the way, not including managers and coaching staffs, the answers to the trivia question above are both on Liverpool:
- Daniel Sturridge, by the way, who did not get off the bench in 2012 when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in penalty kicks.
- Xherdan Shaqiri, who was an unused sub when Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Der Klassiker UCL Final