Matthijs de Ligt has opened up over his decision to sign for Juventus – and not Barcelona – last summer. He said he believed that the Italian giants were better placed to make him a ‘more complete’ player than the Spanish champions.
The 20-year-old seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of ex-Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong in moving to Camp Nou last summer, but the Dutchman shocked everyone when he chose a big-money switch to Turin, instead.
And while speaking to Dutch TV channel Ziggo, De Ligt confirmed that Barça had shown an interest in his services, but he turned them down to learn ‘a different style’ with Maurizio Sarri at Juve, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“I studied all the options and finally I came to the conclusion that at Juventus I could grow more as a player with a different style that would make me more complete.”
The decision took many in the world of football by surprise, who saw Barcelona as the most natural next step in the starlet’s progression as a world-class centre-back, and thought the lure of playing alongside Lionel Messi and De Jong would prove too strong to resist.
But De Ligt opted to join Juventus in a deal worth €85m, hoping to learn from masters of the game like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
It would appear that the Netherlands international made a wise decision, too. La Blaugrana has been miles off their usual pace this season, and Quique Setién’s men slipped from the top of La Liga on Sunday evening.
Barça put in a limp display against a far from impressive Real Madrid side in El Clásico, losing the derby 2-0, thanks to goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz.
De Jong started for the Catalan giants against Real Madrid, and he must wish De Ligt had chosen Spain over Italy – if only to shore up Barcelona’s haphazard defence.
The Juventus defender also confessed that despite ignoring the path trodden by De Jong in the summer, he ‘still talks a lot’ to the midfield superstar, and he can’t quite believe how far the pair have come in the space of two years.
“I still talk a lot to Frenkie. It’s funny to see that two years ago we were playing at Jong Ajax (the youth team) and now I’m playing with (Cristiano) Ronaldo and Frenkie with (Lionel) Messi! That is quite strange!”
De Ligt has made 19 league appearances for the Old Lady this season, and after a tough initial few months, he has begun to adapt well to his new surroundings in a tougher division.
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