Man Utd ‘prioritise De Ligt who Ten Hag loves’ – and release clause now active

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Manchester United are reportedly plotting an ambitious move for Matthijs de Ligt this summer in the hopes that Erik ten Hag can tempt the Juventus man over to Old Trafford.

De Ligt has struggled for form since moving to Turin back in 2019 and hinted recently that he could quit the club despite the fact his contract there still has two years left to run on it. Ten Hag and De Ligt know each other well from the three years they spent together at Ajax and if the Dutch defender does decide to up sticks a reunion with his former boss would likely be high on his list of choices.

Journalist Nico Schira claims Ten Hag 'loves' De Ligt ever since their Ajax days and would prioritise him in their hunt for a centre-back.

When asked recently about speculation linking him to United, De Ligt said: "Ending fourth [in Serie A] for two years in a row is not good enough. Juventus knows this too. So being Juventus, we have to take steps. I'm a Juventus player, so I'm focused on that.

"There are talks ongoing between Juventus and me. Once the right moment arrives, I will decide to extend or look further."

Ten Hag is expected to be a busy man in the transfer market this summer as he looks to mould United's squad in his image, and with the alarming dip in form of Harry Maguire last season, a top-quality centre back will probably be high on his shopping list.

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Whether Juventus want to let the 22-year-old leave is another question though, and while there is a release clause in his contract which becomes active this summer, the fact that it's set at £106 million makes the move unlikely – unless United are prepared to properly splash the cash on him.

Ten Hag handed De Ligt his senior debut with Ajax back in 2016 and it wasn't long before the youngster was handed the captain's armband – such was his quality and level of maturity.

Along with the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek, De Ligt played a starring role in Ajax's remarkable run in the Champions League back in 2019 – where they swatted aside Real Madrid and Juventus before eventually being felled by Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham with the last kick of the ball in the semi-final second leg.

A £64 million move to Juventus followed, but De Ligt has been in and out of the team and hasn't looked anything near to the confident, composed leader he was in Amsterdam. Could a move to Manchester be his saving grace? We'll have to wait and see.

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