Lionel Messi reportedly wants to become teammates with the next Cristiano Ronaldo in Barcelona.

20-year-old Matthijs de Ligt is arguably the highest-rated defender in soccer today. With a long career ahead of him, there’s a good chance that he will decide to switch clubs in the future. And as early as now, Messi doesn’t want Barcelona to miss out on him.

Reports claim that Argentine wants Barcelona to move in for Ronaldo’s Juventus teammate de Ligt as a long-term replacement for Gerard Pique. However, Messi is aware that Real Madrid and Florentino Perez might also be interested in de Ligt and wants Barca to act quickly in order to seal the deal, Fox Sports reported.

Aside from being a prospect of Barcelona, what makes de Ligt even more interesting is that he is currently being viewed as the next Ronaldo in soccer. Edwin van der Sar, a Manchester United teammate of Ronaldo, has played an integral role in the development of de Ligt. And just recently, van der Sar compared de Ligt to Ronaldo for sharing the 'same mentality' while on the field.

“But his (de Ligt) mentality and the way he wants to improve, he wants to be the best defender in the world. And I’ve seen that with a few players. One of them is playing in the same team, Cristiano Ronaldo,” van der Sar said about de Ligt.

“When I played at Man United with him (Ronaldo), he had the same desire and attitude to work hard, to become better every training. And that’s the same mentality and hunger as Matthijs de Ligt,” van der Sar added.

De Ligt, who has helped guide the Dutch side to the Champions League quarter finals, has already stated that he has always wanted to be like Ronaldo.

During an interview several months ago, de Ligt took a quick look at his young career and realized that everything happened so fast. According to him, during a dinner courtesy of Adidas, he remembered the time when he has always dreamed of being the next Ronaldo in soccer.

"Sometimes I realise that everything has gone very fast. During the season, at the club, and during the various competitions, you really do not have time to reflect. But there are times when I realise that this is not normal,” de Ligt said.

“Like recently, when I dined with my football friends from the past. Adidas organised that dinner. There were also childhood friends and we started reminiscing. We remembered how I always wanted to be Cristiano Ronaldo when we played football in the garden,” de Ligt recalled.

de Ligt Juventus
Matthijs de Ligt during a Juventus match