At 19 years of age, he’s Europe’s most exciting and coveted defender. In the coming few weeks, it’s certain Mattihijs De Ligt’s future lies away from the Johan Cruyff Arena, but only he knows where…
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 PSG 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 has already gone to. Around February time, it was all but certain that the Dutch international would 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. But talks stalled and now he’s as likely to go to Spain as any other country in Europe.
89.9% pass accuracy and a staggering 3.1 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 fit straight into Barca’s back line and essentially signal the end of Samuel Umtiti’s time at the Nou Camp.
With Clement Lenglet still adjusting to life at the Catalan club 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 Di Marzio, are now the front runners to sign De Ligt. Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli have been pocketing the world’s best forwards for years now. But with the former 34 and the latter now hanging up his boots at 37 the Ajax defender prospect is capable of succeeding both of the imperious Italians immediately.
Despite no longer being at the peak of his powers, Chiellini will continue to start for the Old Lady, meaning that De Ligt will be his partner (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 0.2 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. So where should Matthijs De Ligt pick as his next destination? Let us know on Twitter @TasteofFtbl