Nou Camp giants were priced out of move for Southampton central defender but continue to look for long-term option
BARCELONA have been forced to turn their attention to cheaper defensive options after being priced out of a move for Virgil van Dijk, according to reports in Catalonia.
Ernesto Valverde made a new centre-back his priority when he replaced in Luis Enrique but the board have so far not delivered.
Mundo Deportivo report chief director Robert Fernandez had scouted Van Dijk, 26, but he did not fit the tactical profile they were looking — and was deemed too expensive.
Liverpool and Chelsea were also keen on the Dutch international, who ended the transfer window at Southampton.
The article insists Ajax teen Matthijs de Ligt is their new No 1 priority.
Barcelona are still looking to properly replace stalwart Carles Puyol, who hung up his boots in 2012.
Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti have formed a good understanding, so the plan would be to bring in young defenders who could learn before eventually taking over.
De Ligt, 19, is the priority because Barcelona feel any player who moves from Ajax would have little adapting to do due to the two clubs’ similar traditions and philosophy.
On top of that, he wouldn’t command too high a transfer fee.
However, he is a man in demand, with his former manager Peter Bosz keen to bring him to Borussia Dortmund.