In the race to find a replacement for ageing Gerard Pique, Barcelona are reportedly keeping tabs on Ajax centre-half Matthijs De Ligt as their priority signing in the January transfer window, as Ernesto Valverde continues his search for a long-term centre back option.

Since his move to Camp Nou, Valverde has been adamant that Barca will sign a new central defender, as both Pique and Javier Mascherano both the wrong side of 30.

While Samuel Umtiti has replaced Mascherano in the Blaugrana starting lineup, the search for Pique’s long-term successor still continues.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are considering replacing the Spaniard with the 18-year-old Ajax youngster De Ligt, who has been making rounds in the Netherlands with his performance.

The problems that the Catalan giants have so far faced come in the way of finances. Though considered rich, the Camp Nou outfit are finding themselves priced out of transfers recently due to incredibly inflated player prices in today’s crazy market.

Alongside this problem is that clusb are refusing to sell – Liverpool’s stance on Philippe Coutinho being a prime example – or the player does not want to leave.

However, Barca feel that De Ligt will be reasonably priced, and won’t require much convincing to jump on the first plane to La Liga.

If this plan falls, Valverde will turn his attention towards RB Leipzig’s Robert Fernandez – also 18 – as his second choice.

With that said, Fernandez might even prove more tough to sign than De Ligt, who isn’t playing Champions League football with the Dutch side this season. Barcelona scouts believe that Matthijs De Ligt is everything the club want in a defender – quick, technical and confident on the ball.