Liverpool on red alert as PSG become favourites in £70m race for Klopp’s dream target

Paris Saint-Germain may have taken the lead, ahead of Barcelona, in the race for Ajax sensation Matthijs de Ligt, according to reports in Spain.

A host of Europe’s top teams have been chasing the 19-year-old this summer, with Barcelona, PSG, Liverpool, Juventus, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all interested.

Barca appeared to be in the box seat in terms of attracting the Dutch centre-back, but the latest reports in Spain suggest they have squandered that advantage.

Spanish publication AS suggest that De Ligt has not been convinced by offer Barcelona have made to him, naming ‘sporting guarantees’ as the issue.

This negotiation breakdown has allowed PSG to gain ground in the race, as has the imminent return of Leonardo as sporting director in Paris.

The Brazilian is set to return to his former side, taking on his previous role in the process, which should hand PSG another advantage in the De Ligt race.

Leonardo has an excellent relationship with De Ligt’s agent, Mina Raiola, having negotiated deals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell between them during the Brazilian’s previous spell in Paris.

The connection could be enough to edge the Dutchman away from Catalonia and to the French capital.

Liverpool’s interest in the teenager appears to have cooled, with the expected enormous transfer fee likely to put them off, and their focus set to be on other areas of the team to strengthen.

With Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren all still at the club and capable of partnering Virgil van Dijk, centre-back is not the priority area for the Reds this summer.

De Ligt’s last comment on his future was after Netherlands lost to Portugal in the Nations League final, when he simply said: ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’