At 19 years of age, he’s Europe’s most exciting and coveted defender. Either in the coming few days or in the summer, it’s more than likely Mattihijs De Ligt’s future lies away from the Johan Cruijff Arena…
The Ajax youth academy graduate burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old, showing maturity and ability beyond his years. The defender has a plethora of top European clubs willing to part with substantial sums of money to bolster their defences. The likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid have all shown interest in De Ligt. Yet, the two strongest links come from the Nou Camp and the Allianz Stadium.
Barcelona and Juventus are reportedly favourites to gain his signature, with both options offering lucrative contracts as well as silverware galore. So which one should the Dutchman choose? Let’s take a look:
The first option is the Nou Camp, where De Ligt’s compatriot Frenkie De Jong will go in the summer. Various news outlets are reporting the centre back will follow his teammate to the Blaugrana, who are looking towards the long term and finding successors to the members of their great 2009 treble-winning side.
91.9% pass accuracy and a staggering 3.6 long balls per game this season highlights how comfortable on the ball De Ligt is. He fits the criteria of a Barcelona defender, being able to distribute with ease and play one touch. He would be expected to succeed 31-year old Gerard Pique and partner Samuel Umtiti at the back.
With Clement Lenglet still adjusting to life at the Catalan club, Jeison Murillo on loan and Thomas Vermaelen injury prone, the Dutch international would not face any competition for places in the Barcelona backline. He’d seamlessly slot in; a good move for both parties.
The alternative for the defender would be the Bianconeri who, according to Tuttosport, are also slowly looking towards De Light as a replacement for their loyal servants at the back. Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli have been pocketing the world’s best forwards for years now. But at 34 and 37 respectively they will soon be hanging up their boots, boots that the Ajax prospect is capable of filling.
Despite no longer being at the peak of his powers, Chiellini will continue to start for the Old Lady, meaning that De Ligt initially will have to be rotated (same at Barcelona with Pique). One thing that is essential for a Juventus centre back is discipline, with their veteran Italian duo a testament to this. De Ligt is not mistake prone, shown by his 0.5 times dispossessed per game as well as his 0.5 fouls per game, making him an ideal fit for Juventus too.
In the long term, the Dutchman would partner with Daniele Rugani with both defenders having the potential to be world class at the back. The only issue for De Ligt at the Bianconeri unlike at the Blaugrana is initial game time. Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli and Caceres (when he signs) will all demand game time for Massimiliano Allegri, which may not allow the Ajax product to play week in week out from the getgo. Still a good move for him in the long term.
So where should Matthijs De Ligt pick as his next destination? Let us know on Twitter @TasteofFtbl