Liverpool losing race for £60m-rated powerhouse centre-back to PSG

Paris Saint-Germain may have taken the lead, ahead of Barcelona, in the running for Ajax starlet Matthijs de Ligt.

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

Barcelona appeared to be in the pole position in terms of attracting the Dutchman, but the latest reports suggest they have squandered that advantage.

AS claims that Matthijs De Ligt has not been convinced by offer the La Liga champions have made to him, naming ‘sporting guarantees’ as the issue. This breakdown has allowed French giants to gain ground in the race, as has the imminent return of Leonardo as sporting director.

The Brazilian is set to return to his former club, taking on his previous role in the process, which should hand Paris Saint-Germain another advantage in the Matthijs De Ligt race.

Leonardo has a perfect relationship with the defender’s agent, Mina Raiola, having negotiated deals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell during the Brazilian’s previous spell in French capital.

The connection could be enough to lure the Netherlands international away from Catalonia and to the French capital.

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

With Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren all still at Anfield and capable of partnering Virgil van Dijk.