Manchester United and Chelsea are now firm favourites to land Matthijs de Ligt – who is desperate to quit Juventus following a heated row with the club's hierarchy.
It's understood the Dutchman, who joined Juventus from Ajax in a £67 million deal three years ago, is demanding he be transfer listed after talks over a new contract turned sour this week.
United and Chelsea – who are both in dire need of defensive reinforcements – have been keeping tabs on De Ligt's situation all year and are now expected to make formal approaches for the wantaway star.
READ MORE: Man Utd snubbed again as transfer target opts to join Premier League rivals
Chelsea, who are keen to plug the gaping Antonio Rudiger-shaped hole in their back-line, may have an advantage over United with Champions League football in their calendar, but the Red Devils have Erik ten Hag – who coached De Ligt for three seasons at Ajax.
The 52-year-old is attempting to pry fellow Ajax alumni Frenkie de Jong out of Barcelona and the prospect of a big reunion at Old Trafford could be enough to swing the balance in United's favour.
De Ligt is just one of a number of central defenders linked with a move to Stamford Bridge this summer, with the likes of Jules Kounde, Josko Gvardiol and Milan Skriniar all on the club's radar following the departures of Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
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Despite having a centre back pairing worth over £115 million, United are also in the market for defenders with ten Hag looking for an extra pair of legs to keep Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane on their toes following what was a defensively disastrous campaign for the club last season.
De Ligt's Juventus contract doesn't expire until 2024, and the Serie A giants had planned to extend it until 2026, but given the bad blood that now exists between player and club, letting him leave might be in the best interest of all parties.
It's understood the disagreement began after Juventus demanded a £98 million release clause be inserted into the 22-year-old's new deal – a fee the defender felt was around £30 million too high.
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