Why Barcelona want to sign Ajax defensive giant Davinson Sanchez

The 20-year-old Colombian has impressed in his first season in Europe and it is no surprise he is high on the Catalan side’s list of transfer targets


When Davinson Sanchez arrived at Ajax last year, he saw it as the ideal springboard for greater heights in Europe.

“I can learn a lot and achieve my personal goals,” the 20-year-old said. “Ajax is the best club for me to grow as a player.”

Signing a deal until 2021, the Amsterdam side expected to get a few years of service from their €5 million investment. However, the classy Colombian centre-back’s seamless transition into the team and excellent displays suggest he will not be around for long.

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Sanchez, who has been named the club’s player of the season, is of increasing interest to Barcelona, while Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked too.

To team captain Davy Klaassen, that is only logical: “He is a beast. I understand why he has been associated with top clubs. He has the stature, the power.”

“There is a danger of a quick departure as Sanchez displays himself so impressively on the European stage,” Ruud Gullit wrote about him in De Telegraaf . “Jaap Stam was the last Ajax player with such defensive qualities.”

The defender has been quiet about the reports, merely stating it is “a great honour” to be linked to Barcelona. Given he already snubbed the chance to sign for Barcelona B last year, he won’t be shaken by the rumours but it is something he may soon have to seriously consider.

Goal’s Barcelona correspondent Ignasi Oliva understands Sanchez is high on Barca’s list of targets for the centre of defence. Jeremy Mathieu will leave Camp Nou, while the future of Javier Mascherano remains a doubt. The Argentine’s departure would leave them seeking two or three young defenders who can compete for playing time.

The gap may be big, but the South American who says he “will do anything to succeed in Europe” is already at a high level. He has been in Colombia’s national team for their most recent World Cup qualifiers, playing once – 90 minutes against Argentina.

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His Ajax career was delayed slightly by his involvement in Atletico Nacional’s Copa Libertadores campaign, playing every minute as they lifted the continental title for the first time in 17 years. Although he missed pre-season and the first Champions League qualifier and Eredivisie games, he was immediately a first-team regular for Peter Bosz’s side.

The Eredivisie has been a stroll and he has been key to the campaign which puts them within 90 minutes of their first European final in two decades.

“I am a spirited defender who likes to have the ball at his feet. That’s one of my strengths,” he said.

It’s clear he likes to get into the action. He has attempted and completed more passes than anyone else in the Eredivisie. A lot of those go straight to his central…

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