Matthijs de Ligt
De Ligt enjoyed his breakthrough season last term which ended by starting the Europa League final. Getty Images

Barcelona have been told to abandon attempts to sign Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt in the January transfer window.

The 18-year-old is subject to interest from the La Liga leaders after cementing a place in the Ajax first team during the last 12 months.

De Ligt came through the Ajax academy to make 45 appearances last term – which included starting the Europa League final against Manchester United – and is now first choice under Marcel Keizer.

Mundo Deportivo understand that De Ligt has emerged as Barcelona's primary target in the winter window as the club look to update the centre of their defence.

But his agent Barry Hulshoff says no deal will take place before the end of the current campaign – ruling out a January exit.

"The intention is to stay at Ajax at least until summer," he told Ziggo Sport, according to Goal.com. "He signed a new contract in Amsterdam in August 2017. He is fixed until the summer of 2021."

Thomas Vermaelen and Javier Macherano are both out of contract at the Nou Camp in the summer, meaning Barcelona are under pressure to strengthen an area of the field which has long been a weakness.

Ernesto Valverde wanted to sign Ingio Martinez from Real Sociedad in the summer but the move was blocked by the Barcelona hierarchy, but they appear more receptive to his demands now following his encouraging start as manager.

Belgium international Vermaelen, 32, is being lined up for an exit in January and his departure could trigger a move for De Ligt, given the mounting interest from rival clubs. Premier League side Arsenal have also been linked with the teenager.

Manager of sport for football Pep Segura and technical secretary Robert Fernández want to tie the deal up as soon as possible with Barca having identified De Ligt as having similar traits to current defender Gerard Pique.

Ajax however have no intention of selling De Ligt in January, six months after losing Davinson Sanches to Tottenham Hotspur.

The player himself has stated he has no interest in moving to Barcelona if he is not a regular starter. "I prefer to be a starter at Ajax than the Barcelona bench," he stated, according to MD.

Therefore, a summer move may be more viable given that Vermaelen and Mascherano will have been moved on by that stage allowing De Ligt more opportunities.