Matthijs de Ligt has completed his move to Italian champions Juventus for €75milllion, penning a five-year contract with the Bianconeri after breaking through the ranks at Ajax. The 19-year-old will reportedly earn up to €460,000 per week if all the add-ons are met, potentially making him the highest paid defender in the world.
The teenager had a sensational season with Ajax, leading them to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals last term. By putting in strong performances against Juventus and Real Madrid, he attracted attention from all over. However, the Dutch defender rejected approaches from Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United to join iconic figure Cristiano Ronaldo at the Turin-based club.
The 19-year old not only becomes the highest-paid defender, but he’s also the third-most expensive teenager in Europe, only ranking below Kylian Mbappe and Joao Felix in the transfer fee slot. De Ligt becomes the second most expensive defender of all time, only behind Virgil van Dijk for whom Liverpool paid £75million last year.
However, if you take into account that Juventus will pay €10.5 million extra during their part-payments for the defender over the next five years, de Ligt could effectively become the most expensive defender ever. The 2018 Golden Boy award winner comes to Turin with big expectations, but the Old Lady has taken a calculated risk on this next big thing in European football.
Partner for Chiellini
De Ligt has effectively been brought in as the sidekick to Giorgio Chiellini. The Juventus captain is still the defensive general in Turin, but he now finds the perfect partner to whom he may eventually pass on his mantle, too.
De Ligt kept 15 clean sheets in the Eredivisie last season, while also scoring and assisting three goals apiece in the league. However, it was his heroics in the Champions League, where he netted twice and kept the world’s best attackers at bay, which itself proves how good a fit he will be at Juventus.
The 19-year old will find competition in the shape of Leonardo Bonucci, but considering the 32-year old is slowly declining with age, de Ligt’s defensive solidity should make him an irreplaceable regular in no time. He’ll be trusted to be Chiellini’s effective partner, being more aggressive, making challenges and taking control in defence going forward.
Now considering that Chiellini is 34-years old himself, Maurizio Sarri will quickly need to look for a new captain. De Ligt became Ajax captain at just 18 years of age, after which he guided them to winning the Eredivisie and also marching into the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Just a year on, the teenager acts like a 29-year old and loves to rally his team forward with his fiery attitude. It’s almost impossible to dribble past de Ligt or defeat him in the air, while his commanding nature is something which rubs off on his team-mates as well.
While Juventus will obviously think twice before appointing a youngster their captain, de Ligt’s leadership qualities should soon compel them to do so. He’s the next generation of defensive leader they’ve been searching for and, considering how Italy loves amplifying the effectiveness of its defenders, de Ligt should reach another level relatively soon.