Matthijs de Ligt has revealed why he chose to join Juventus after they confirmed his signing.
The 19-year-old Dutch centre-back ended an 11-year association with his boyhood club Ajax who receive £67.5m (€75m) for his signature.
A wanted man, following an incredible rise to prominence, De Ligt was subsequently linked with a host of Europe’s super clubs including Barcelona, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain but in the end he opted for Juve who made him the third most expensive tenager in the process behind Joao Felix and Kylian Mbappe.
Now coached by Maurizio Sarri there’s a strong chance of him enjoying regular playing time plus De Ligt will also learn at the feet of Giorgio Chiellini widely considered to be among Europe’s finest centre-backs and Italian centre-backs seem to have always been a reference for him.
“I have been fascinated by the Italian way of defending from an early age,” he told Ajax’s official website.
“Many of my idols from the past are also Italians. Such as [Paolo] Maldini, [Franco] Baresi, [Alessandro] Nesta, [Fabio] Cannavaro and [Gaetano] Scirea.
“When you talk about defenders, then you soon talk about those names. I actually fell in love with the Italian way of defending and I made a choice based on that.”
— JuventusFC (@juventusfc) July 18, 2019
De Ligt becomes the second high profile departure from Amsterdam after close friend Frenkie de Jong signed for Barça, his exit means the Dutch champions will appoint a new captain, which is likely to be Dusan Tadic.
Prior to leaving he was the youngest player to skipper Ajax and doing so guided them to a first domestic double since 2002 as well as the Champions League semi-finals. Despite not turning 20 until August he leaves having made 117 senior appearances for de godenzonen, registering 13 goals, with one coming in Ajax’s recent 2-1 win away to Juve.
A mainstay for the Dutch national team, 17 caps and counting, De Ligt has shown maturity beyond his years and last year collected the Golden Boy award. It was there, an event held in Turin, where discussions of a future move to The Old Lady began. He’s expected to join up with his new teammates on their pre-season tour of Asia
How big is this signing? Five key things to know…
- De Ligt came through Ajax’s fabled youth academy before making 117 appearances for their first team.
- His final season culminated with lifting the Eredivisie and KNVB Beker – the club’s first domestic double since 2002.
- De Ligt in March 2018 became Ajax’s youngest ever captain.
- He is the current Golden Boy recipient and first defender to lift Tuttosport’s prize.
- Juventus beat off a host of European super clubs to sign him, parting with €75m.