Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

De Ligt not fazed by price tag after move to Juventus

Leave a comment

If you can’t beat them, buy them. That appears to be Juventus’ philosophy as it continues its quest for the Champions League title.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

In 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Real Madrid against Juventus to eliminate the Serie A champion from Europe’s premier club competition. A few months later Juventus signed him.

This year Matthijs de Ligt scored the goal that eliminated Juventus from the Champions League in April as he captained Ajax to the semifinals. On Thursday, Juventus signed the Netherlands defender.

Juventus is an overwhelming favorite to win a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title but it is desperate to end its long wait for European success.

Since Juventus’ last title in 1996, it has finished runner-up five times in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Conte calls Lukaku an “important” part of his plans at Inter ]

“We want to win them all: this is the mentality of Juventus,” said De Ligt at his first news conference as a Juventus player on Friday. “I’m 19, I can still improve and I want to do that. It’s important to work hard every day and to learn, and I hope to become a better player.”

De Ligt became the most expensive defender in Serie A history when he completed an $85-million transfer from Ajax.

But the teen is not fazed at the price tag.

“Of course, when a club buys you for a big amount of money, there’s a lot of pressure, but pressure is normal in football,” De Ligt said. “I think pressure is the most important thing and if you want to be a good player, you have to deal with it.

“It’s not a big deal for me. I’ll just play my game, work hard and show it on the pitch. In the end, everyone will see how I deal with it, but it’s not going to be a problem.”

[ MORE: Report: Barcelona logs bid for Neymar ]

A photo emerged during the week of De Ligt wearing a Juventus shirt as a child and he admitted he grew up idolizing Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro, who captained Italy to World Cup success in 2006.

“The photo of me in a Juventus shirt was taken when I was about six or seven, at that time Fabio Cannavaro was a defender that I admired,” he said. “I always had a good feeling about Juventus and I’ve always been a fan.”

Another reason De Ligt chose Juventus was because of new coach Maurizio Sarri, who replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the end of the season.

“I spoke to Sarri on the phone before coming, just to get to know each other,” De Ligt said. “He was one of the reasons that I wanted to join here, I’ve heard a lot of good things about him and I like his footballing philosophy and how he prepares his defense.”

De Ligt signs on with Juventus

Matthijs de Ligt
@juventusfcen
Leave a comment

Matthijs de Ligt is finally, officially, irredeemably property of Juventus.

The well-tracked 19-year-old Ajax center back has signed a four-year deal with the serial Serie A champions after months of speculation.

[ MORE: Atleti signs Trippier ]

De Ligt was connected with almost all of the big boys this summer, but momentum swung in Juventus’ favor around June 22.

The 6-foot-2 Dutch center back chipped in seven goals in 55 appearances last season, scoring against both Juve and Spurs in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Now in Turin, De Ligt can focus on helping Maurizio Sarri‘s men deliver a UEFA Champions League title since scudetti have become common place for the Old Lady.

Ajax reportedly pockets a cool $84 million for its academy star.

Juventus is loaded for 2019-20, and will bid to win its first UCL crown since 1996. It has lost the final five times since that triumph over Ajax.

De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of proposed Juventus move

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo’s recruiting tactics with Matthijs de Ligt during the UEFA Nations League final appears to have worked.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Juventus posted a video on the club’s social media accounts that shows de Ligt arriving in Turin, Italy on a private jet, likely to sign his contract and get started with the club. It’s a huge precursor to an announcement for one of the top targets of this summer’s transfer market, and it represents a huge coup for Juventus.

Just a month ago or so, Juventus were on the outside looking in, with Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, and even Manchester United and Manchester City all mentioned in the race to sign the Netherlands and Ajax star centerback. And yet, PSG, which appeared in the lead at one point, lost ground to Juventus, and de Ligt now gets to compete alongside Ronaldo after facing him twice over the past season.

It’s the latest move in the incredible rise of de Ligt over the past three years. De Ligt was promoted to Ajax’s first team as a 17-year-old, and pretty quickly established himself as a huge talent for the Netherlands. Then Netherlands National Team coach Danny Blind called up de Ligt to start in a crunch World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, with the Netherlands desperate for some defensive answers.

It’s didn’t exactly go well.

And yet, de Ligt has overcome those experiences and raised his game to new levels each of the last two years. Alongside Davinson Sanchez, Ajax made it to the Europa League final, and last year, de Ligt scored as Ajax defeated Juventus on the way to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Ajax was just a few minutes away from the finals before Tottenham’s late winner.

At the same time, along with Virgil Van Dijk, they form one of the strongest centerback partnerships in Europe, and look set to lead the Netherlands to UEFA Euro 2020.

As mentioned before, it’s a massive get for de Ligt, assuming that the soon-to-be 20-year-old can settle in Turin. Juventus’ defensive corps continues to grow older, with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini both well into their 30s. De Ligt’s arrival can help give some stability at the back and allow Juventus to transition to the next generation of centerbacks.

Matthijs de Ligt left off Ajax roster for start of preseason

Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Matthijs de Ligts name was very noticeably absent from the 28-man list of players headed to Austria for the first leg of Ajax’s preseason preparations, further fueling speculation that a transfer to Juventus is nearing completion.

[ TRANSFER RUMORS: Alderweireld to Roma, Haller to West Ham ]

Ajax announced the squad on Saturday with while the likes of fellow rising stars Donny van de Beek, David Neres and Nicolas Tagliafico also not included, though transfer rumors involving players not named De Ligt have been much fewer and farther between.

De Ligt, the captain and remaining crown-jewel prospect, has appeared headed for the exit door since for quite some time.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid to legally contest Griezmann’s transfer to Barcelona ]

Juventus are reportedly ready to pay $84 million for De Ligt’s services, making him the second-most expensive defender in the history of transfers, behind only Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.

Reports: Matthijs de Ligt closes in on imminent Juventus move

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to multiple reports all across Europe, the highly contested, highly public, and at times highly awkward Matthijs de Ligt saga is coming to an imminent close.

Dutch publication De Telegraaf reported early on Thursday that the 19-year-old defender and his agents are nearing a conclusion with the Serie A giants, with a fee finally decided upon. The report states that the breakthrough came when Juventus decided to fork over $84 million, which equals the fee that Barcelona had offered to Ajax before talks with the Spanish side broke down nearly a month ago.

In fact, talks are nearing a conclusion quickly enough that De Ligt could reportedly be unveiled as a Juventus player as early as Saturday, which the Italian side is aiming for. That would likely give him time to join the first-team squad in Singapore where they are preparing to play in the International Champions Cup, with their first match scheduled for July 21.

Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio reports that De Ligt has already agreed to terms with Juventus, speeding up the move even further. His contract is five years in length, and will pay him $13.5 million per season. That is significantly lower than the $17 million per season reported by Di Marzio back in mid-June when Juventus was first rumored to be entering the mix. It is possible the club decided to decrease its salary offer in exchange for some image rights, but that has not been mentioned in any reports to this point. The inflated contract offer reported by Di Marzio initially would have made De Ligt the second-highest paid player at the club behind Cristiano Ronaldo, which could have potentially unsettled the squad.

Juventus is a fabulous landing spot for the Dutch teen who has looked unbeatable for much of the last two years, but also at times is mistake-prone. He can fight for first-team minutes while also learning from some legends of the game nearing the end of their careers such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Gianluigi Buffon has also returned to the club and could be a positive influence on De Ligt as he grows towards the prime of his career.

De Ligt has reported to preseason training with the Ajax squad as his transfer talks dragged on, proving awkward for just about everyone involved.

Should the move eventually be completed this summer, the Juventus defense would be absolutely bursting at the seams, and De Ligt will need to work hard to find time on the field. The squad is coming off a season where they conceded a measly 30 goals in 38 matches en route to its 8th straight Scudetto, and adding De Ligt to a back line that already includes Chiellini, Bonucci, Daniele Rugani, and 21-year-old Turkish international Merih Demiral all centrally positioned would be monstrous. Add in Alex Sandro, Joao Cancelo, Mattia de Sciglio, and a new arrival in 20-year-old Italian youth international Luca Pellegrini all on the flank, and the Juventus defense looks primed to not just blitz through the Italian top flight yet again, but challenge for the Champions League crown.