​A report has claimed that Arsenal could be in the running to sign Ajax starlet Matthijs de Ligt this summer, if the club can get out of form playmaker Mesut Özil off the wage bill.

The 19-year-old centre-back is likely to be one of the most in-demand players when the transfer window opens at the end of the season, and the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona are set to scrap it out to sign the starlet. The youngster already has 13 caps for the Netherlands senior national team, and is the captain of his title-challenging club side.

UEFA Nations League A group 1'Germany v The Netherlands'

According to the Sun, De Ligt is a 'huge admirer' of the ​Gunners, having worked with club legends Marc Overmars and Denis Bergkamp at Ajax. The report also claims that Arsenal could free up some much needed cash in the summer by selling on £350k-per-week midfielder Mesut Özil, who has been used sparingly by new manager Unai Emery this season.

Continuing, the report claims that the north London side would also see a major boost to their finances if they could assure Champions League qualification - with a budget of just £40m awaiting Emery should they fail to secure a top four finish. Arsenal could also qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, which could be a more achievable aim.

Mesut Ozil

De Ligt is clearly a player destined for great things, and has the potential to become one of the best central defenders in the world. Given his remarkable talent, it seems unlikely that he would consider a move to a side not competing in the Champions League, and could still spurn the Gunners' advances in order to join a more high-profile side.

In other news, former ​Arsenal favourite Paul Merson has argued that the club should look to sign Declan Rice from West Ham United next summer. The pundit contended that the player's recent decision to represent England over Ireland added to his value, and that the player could add some real dynamism to the Gunners' midfielder.