Football News

Matthijs de Ligt: I rejected Barcelona to become a more ‘complete’ player at Juventus

By Harry Edwards

Published: 10:46, 6 March 2020

Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt has revealed he chose to join Juventus over Barcelona to continue his growth as a player.

The 20-year-old was one of the most highly sought-after centre-backs in Europe last summer after an excellent season with Ajax.

As captain, he led them to the Eredivisie and Dutch Cup double, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, knocking Juventus and Real Madrid out along the way.

Matthijs de Ligt at Juventus: Five things to know…

  • Matthijs de Ligt joined Juventus from Ajax last summer, for a fee of £67.5m.
  • The centre-back was also subject to interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.
  • Former Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal previously stated De Ligt should have chosen Barcelona.
  • But De Ligt has revealed he picked Juventus to help his growth.
  • De Ligt has played 26 times in all competitions for Juventus this season.

Some of Europe’s biggest clubs were interested in his signature over the summer including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, as Ajax faced an exodus.

De Ligt eventually joined Juventus but did not have the best start, being thrown in earlier than Maurizio Sarri had wanted due to an injury to Giorgio Chiellini.

Since making his debut, De Ligt has gone on to make 26 appearances for Juventus across all competitions but the jury is still out on the success of his maiden campaign in Italy.

And De Ligt has admitted he does still have a lot to learn in football and highlights that as a reason for him choosing Juventus.

“I had offers last summer from Juventus, PSG and Barcelona, so I studied the various options and at the end of the day concluded I could grow faster at Juve,” he told Ziggo Sport.

“They have a particular style and I knew being here would make me a more complete player.”

De Ligt also hailed the impact the likes of Chiellini have had on welcoming him to the club, learning alongside one of the best defenders in Serie A.

“There are more eyes on you and people expect a great deal, all of which is new compared to my time at Ajax,” De Ligt added of his time in Serie A so far.

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“I think that I’ve done well in every match since the start of November and I am happy that the club has faith in me.

“I was on the bench for a little while and talked it over with the coach. I then had that problem with my shoulder and then a groin strain, so I couldn’t train.

“The coach told me very clearly: ‘Calm down, we need you further along in the season and in your best shape, so there’s no rush.’

“I also had to learn the language, as at the start it was just me and Aaron Ramsey who couldn’t speak Italian. We both spoke English, so spent a lot of time together.

“Chiellini also speaks English and he helped me a great deal. It was tough at first, when we sat around the table and everyone spoke Italian, but I took lessons along with my girlfriend.”

Van Gaal: De Ligt and De Jong should have switched moves

Prior to De Ligt’s departure for Juventus, another one of Ajax’s 2019/20 stars had also confirmed a move away from the Dutch club. Midway through the campaign, Frenkie de Jong was announced as a Barcelona player, officially joining the club in the summer.

However, former Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal believes De Jong should have joined Juventus, with De Ligt fit for Barcelona.

“He [De Jong] is not playing in his position,” Van Gaal said.

“At Ajax, everyone was looking for him, he was the centre of the game while at Barca it is not like that. This is the big difference.

“If only one club had to buy Matthijs de Ligt, it would have been Barcelona. And with Busquets, it turns out that Frenkie de Jong should have gone to Juventus. Barca lacks more a De Ligt type player than De Jong.”