Football News

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt reveals Ajax days spent in ‘playmaker’ role

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:45, 26 February 2020

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has revealed he started out as a playmaker before developing into his current role at centre-back.

The 20-year-old Dutch international completed a move from boyhood club Ajax to Italy’s premier team last summer after being courted by some of Europe’s biggest names.

De Ligt’s journey: Five key things to know…

  • Dutch centre-back Matthijs de Ligt came through Ajax’s esteemed youth academy.
  • He went on to make 117 first team appearances, registering 13 goals and seven assists.
  • Last summer Juventus made him the third most expensive teenage footballer behind Kylian Mbappe and Joao Felix.
  • So far he’s netted two goals in 25 matches for the Old Lady.
  • De Ligt has since revealed he began his football journey as a playmaker before turning into a centre-back.

Juve reportedly beat off competition from Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain for his signature, which was seen as a real coup given De Ligt’s incredible rise.

He played an integral role in Ajax’s unexpected run to last season’s Champions League semi-finals, with the Leiderdorp-born footballer — who captained the Amsterdammers — making a number of eye-catching headlines along the way.

His goal against Juve in the quarter-finals saw him become the youngest Dutch player to score in the knockout stages since Nordin Wooter in 1996. Having a keen eye for goal is something he’s quickly become renowned for, leaving Ajax with 13 goals in 117 appearances.

Across that period, De Ligt also registered seven assists, with his seamless ability to transition from being on the backfoot to the front something he says has been ingrained into him.

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“Up to the age of 15 I played as a playmaker. I played a lot in midfield, scored a few goals and made some assists,” he told UEFA’s official website.

“But then they told me that for my career it would be better to play as a central defender.

“At the beginning I thought: ‘I don’t like playing in defence,’ but I now realise that playing as a midfielder has helped me. I am happy with my development.”