Frenkie de Jong is the most convincing option to reinforce Barcelona's midfield this summer. Barça have been following him for months and still believe a deal is possible.
Ajax have told Barcelona 'no' on three occasions now as they want their strongest available side for the Champions League play off matches. This means that come August the situation, and attitude from the Dutch club, might be very different. Barça aren't in any rush either. They are willing to wait because the player has already given his 'OK' to the move.
De Jong is the person who best fits the profile Valverde is looking for. His quality on the ball, the fact he's young as well as his positional awareness all tick the boxes the first team coach wants. Everyone at the club thinks De Jong is the right choice too.
Barcelona were expecting negotiations with Ajax to be complicated but not to this degree. The Dutch club are under huge pressure to qualify for the Champions League and they want De Jong in their ranks for those games.
The midfielder is extremely grateful to Ajax and understands their position in all this. He'll play for them in the key matches but has told the club he wants to sign for Barça either this summer or the next. He won't consider a move anywhere else.
Now that the scenario is clear to everyone, Barcelona are quite confident a deal can be done. At the Camp Nou, they want De Jong in this summer and are willing to push the matter until the final days of the transfer window if that's what it takes.
It's clear that Ajax could open the door to a move should they be assured of a place in the Champions League group stages. However this won't be known until the end of August. The strategy from Barça is to step back and restart negotiations following those matches.
Barcelona also know the cost of the deal: €50m. The fact De Jong won't accept offers from elsewhere means there's no chance of a bidding war.
Ajax know about the player's intentions but De Jong won't force a move either. Everything needs to be agreed in a correct way and it's just down to timing now.
Whilst a deal for De Jong must wait, Barcelona are still searching the market for alternatives. The Ajax man is the number one choice however and even if they need to wait a month, they're confident a deal can be reached before the window closes.
Valverde is a big fan
If there's one footballer who is universally liked at Barcelona it's De Jong. The club began following him more closely last season and have sent scouts to various Ajax matches to monitor his progress. Barça have spoken to his representatives on various occasions in order to convince him that a move to the Camp Nou would be in his best interests.
Valverde wants De Jong because of the options he offers to the team. The fact he's able to play in a double pivot, sitting deep or further forward, is a major plus. The coach also believes he's one of a few players that could adjust to Barcelona's style of play. All that's missing is the one final push to bring the midfielder to the Camp Nou this summer.