Jose Mourinho determined to beat Barcelona in race for €50m top-class Dutchman

Barcelona keeping tabs with Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt and preparing to make an offer in January when the transfer window opens again. Manchester United and Liverpool, with Reds defender Virgil van Dijk recently talking up the prospect of his international team-mate joining him at Anfield. De Ligt and Van Dijk have formed a formidable partnership for the Netherlands and helped the Dutch beat world champions France on Friday night.

United have sent scouts to watch De Ligt in action for his club, but the Mirror claim they have already been told making a move for the 19-year-old is a waste of time. Scouts from clubs across the world watched De Ligt play against France, but Barcelona remain the huge favourites to land the centre-back. Barcelona want De Ligt to replace Gerard Pique and are prepared to spend a world record fee for a teenage defender to seal the deal.

De Ligt came through Ajax’s famous youth academy and has not played for any side other than the Eredivisie team. Jose Mourinho is desperate to improve United’s defence after a dismal start to the season and had earmarked De Ligt as a potential signing. Portuguese coach wants to add a new high-class defender during the winter transfer window.