TURIN: Juventus have pulled off a major coup and confirmed the long rumored story of former AFC Ajax captain Matthijs De Ligt joining the Italian giants. De Ligt was heavily linked with every major European powerhouse from FC Barcelona to PSG to Bayern Munich, but Juventus have won the race to sign the talented young defender.
De Ligt was one of the breakout stars of last season, scoring crucial goals in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and semifinals, one of which was against Juventus. Since the campaign ended, Ajax had confirmed that it will not impede the progress of their captain and let him move on for the right price.
Since then, De Ligt has been embroiled in a long standing transfer saga, with early reports virtually touting a move to FC Barcelona as a done deal. But De Ligt’s head was turned by Cristiano Ronaldo personally inviting him to join Juventus during the UEFA Nations League finals.
Another factor contributing to the scuppering of his move to FC Barcelona was Mino Raiola. FC Barcelona refused to pay the huge commission fee commanded by the super-agent, thus refusing the move in all sense. A fee in the region of £60 million has been agreed by both the clubs for the player’s move, with De Ligt reportedly becoming one of the highest earners at Juventus.
De Ligt had a terrific campaign last year, leading AFC Ajax to a thrilling Eredivisie title and a dream Champions League semifinal run. De Ligt lead his team with admiration and valor as they breezed past the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus while remaining unbeaten against FC Bayern Munich in the two group games of the Champions League.
De Ligt was imperious at the back for Ajax, with the 19-year old lining up for the capital-club 45 times last season. De Ligt scored 6 times for Ajax, with his defensive numbers particularly catching the eye. De Ligt averaged 3.7 Aerials wins per 90, 3.9 clearances per 90, had a astounding 90% passing accuracy and made 15 successful dribbles out of the back with the ball last season.
De Ligt joins a host of new faces at Juventus as Maurizio Sarri continues his revolution at the Italian giants in a bid to win the elusive UEFA Champions League title. De Ligt follows the arrival of big names like Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey and the returning Gigi Buffon, all three on free transfers, along with useful additions in Luca Pellegrini, Merih Demiral and Cristian Romero (loaned back to Genoa).
The man who scored the winner that knocked Juve out of the Champions League lasts season recorded a short video message upon landing in Turin:
“Hello, Bianconeri, this is Matthijs. I'm really happy to be here," he said to the Juventus cameras upon his arrival.
With De Ligt joining the Sarri revolution, the back-line looks complete with the midfield already secured by two new additions while the attacking department is one of the best in the world with Cristiano Ronaldo in it. The arrival of De Ligt really boosts Juventus’s hopes of ending their Champions League hoodoo and they will be desperate to land the elusive title next season.