The Netherlands put their 1-0 loss against England behind them last night in emphatic fashion. The Dutch won their first game under the management of Ronald Koeman by outplaying European Champions Portugal in Lisbon. Goals from Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Virgil van Dijk saw Holland to a 3-0 win.
But it was a central defender who picked up the man-of-the-match award for Holland, and the player in question needs to be on Tottenham Hotspur’s radar.
Matthijs de Ligt was sensational in the fixture. Not only did he keep Cristiano Ronaldo on a short leash in the Dutch defensive trio but he also bagged two assists. De Lift fired in a cross for Babel’s header and nodded down a poised header at the back-post for Van Dijk to score. Considering that the Ajax centre-back is just 18, it was quite the performance.
Tottenham Hotspur should undoubtedly be interested in the teenager.
This summer the club look increasingly likely to be saying goodbye to Toby Alderweireld. No new contract has yet been agreed with the player. The likelihood of that happening appears to be growing rapidly slim.
Like De Ligt, Alderweireld and current Tottenham centre-back stalwart Jan Vertonghen are products of the Ajax academy. Last summer Tottenham raided Ajax for their other defensive option, Colombian talent Davinson Sanchez. Ajax will be sick of the sight of Tottenham, but De Ligt has to be a target for the club.
At just 18 he has already demonstrated he can play among and against the best. With years of progression ahead of him and a coach like Mauricio Pochettino the teenager could become one of the best centre-backs in the world.
There is no doubt Ajax would not let him go cheaply. Tottenham had to break their transfer record to sign his former team-mate Sanchez last summer. But given his age and immense talent De Ligt would be an investment for the future from Spurs.
Alderweireld’s departure will be a sore one to take for Spurs. But if they can replace him with a man who is showing more talent at 18 than he or Vertonghen ever did, Tottenham will be on to a winner.