Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has admitted he was surprised not to start the first game of the new Serie A season.
The teenager joined Juventus from Ajax in the summer for £67.5m and is expected to be a key player for the Old Lady for years to come.
De Ligt benched for Juventus: Five things to know…
- De Ligt signed for Juventus from Ajax for £67.5m.
- The teenager is expected to play a key role in Turin this season.
- De Ligt previously named Maurizio Sarri as one of his reasons for joining Juventus.
- But the centre-back was left on the bench for Juventus’ opening game of the new season.
- And De Ligt has admitted he was surprised with the snub.
Despite vast excitement over the transfer, De Ligt had to watch on from the bench as Juventus kicked off their campaign with a slender 1-0 win over Parma.
New Juventus boss Sarri opted to stick with the tried-and-tested centre-back partnership of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, with the latter scoring the only goal of the game.
But De Ligt has admitted he did not expect to be named on the bench, claiming there were no clues in training that that would be the case.
“Naturally, I would’ve preferred to play and I didn’t get any clues from training, so I didn’t expect to be on the bench,” he said.
“Obviously, I respect the decision of the coach. I must be realistic, as I am still settling in here in Italy.
“The defenders who played, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, were considered for a long time to be the best centre-back partnership in the world.”
De Ligt, who won the 2018 Golden Boy award en route to captaining Ajax to a league and cup double, went on to speak of his early work at Juventus and vowed to meet Sarri’s defensive demands.
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He added: “I have to earn my place throughout the season. The first five weeks have been tough on a physical level, but I do notice that I’m getting stronger.
“Defensively, the demands are not that different to what I was accustomed to at Ajax, as the coach wants us to anticipate the movement.
“I am still getting to grips with the language and I know some football terms, but I want to improve my Italian a great deal.
“I’m attending a course five times a week and that is going well.”
Not the start Matthijs de Ligt was expecting. 😬 pic.twitter.com/3Ar8TFuKD5
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) August 26, 2019
Sarri and De Ligt: A match made in heaven
Although Sarri was not in the dugout for Juventus’ win over Parma due to illness, the Italian’s presence in Turin will be key for De Ligt’s development.
Upon signing for Juventus, De Ligt pinpointed Sarri as a major reason for the move.
“I spoke to Sarri on the phone before coming just to get to know each other,” he said in July.
“He was one of the reasons that I wanted to join here. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him and I like his footballing philosophy and how he prepares his defence.”