Juventus weigh up defensive targets as De Ligt talks continue

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The Serie A champions fear being priced out of a deal for the Ajax centre-back and have begun eyeing alternatives to bolster their backline

Juventus have begun drawing up a shortlist of defensive targets as their hopes of signing Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt begin to fade.

As revealed by Goal in October, the Bianconeri have entered the race to sign Manchester City and Barcelona target De Ligt, with talks between the Serie A champions and agent Mino Raiola ongoing.

It is now understood, however, that Juve fear being priced out of a deal for the Netherlands international, with the 19-year-old likely to cost in excess of €50 million (£43m/$57m).

They remain keen on bolstering at centre-back, however, with current first-choice partnership Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci the wrong side of 30.

Juve do currently have plenty of back-up options, but with veteran Andrea Barzagli set to leave at the end of the campaign and both Medhi Benatia and Daniele Rugani keen to speak to the club about their lack of first-team opportunities, the hierarchy in Turin are keen to secure some young talent to provide competition at the heart of the Massimiliano Allegri's defence.

One option is believed to be Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic, with the Serbia international having impressed for La Viola so far this season.

This is not the first time Juve have considered signing the 21-year-old as Milenkovic's name was brought up during their negotiations over Marko Pjaca's move to Florence over the summer.

The former Partizan Belgrade man has not missed a minute for Stefano Pioli's side so far this season, contributing two goals as well as putting in a series of impressive defensive displays.

Joachim Andersen Sampdoria 2018-19

Juve are also monitoring the progress of Sampdoria's Joachim Andersen, though they are likely to face competition from Serie A rivals Inter should they make their move, while reports claim Arsenal and Tottenham also hold an interest.

The 22-year-old Dane only broke into Sampdoria's first team during the final weeks of last season but has started every game for the Genoa-based outfit this time around.

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The third name on the Juventus shortlist is that of Toulouse teenager Jean-Clair Todibo, who has been earning rave reviews in Ligue 1.

The 18-year-old is likely to be a man in demand, however, with his current contract set to run out this summer.

A host of top European clubs have already spoken to the player's representatives regarding a potential free transfer, with Todibo himself yet to make a call on his future.

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