• Charlie Batten

De Ligt Makes The Best Decision



Before getting into de Ligt's decision the most important thing to remember is that he is only 19. Most footballers are still playing under 21's football for a club they will never play a professional game for and if you're a Chelsea player you're probably about to go on your first of 15 loan deals which will end in you getting sold to Derby at the age of 29. But not Matthijs de Ligt. He has 77 appearances for Ajax in which he captained the club he joined at the age of 9 to a Champions League semi-final for the first time since 1996-97, played 17 times for the Netherlands from the age of 17 making him the youngest player to start an international match for the country since 1931, became the first defender to win the Golden Boy award and has signed for Juventus for a reported £67.5 million which frankly, is a bargain.

So why choose Juventus. Sure Juventus are a huge club with a huge history of success, trophies and only a smidge of corruption but they're not Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. All these clubs have trophies, history (less so Manchester City) and amazing players and managers, but what causes Juventus to lack behind is the league they're in. Frankly, Serie A is not on par with the Premier League, La Liga or the Bundesliga, it doesn't have the same level of competition or quality. But this may actually help de Ligt.

As said before, he's only 19. However good he may have been in the Champions League or Eredivisie, if you throw him into a 38 game Premier League season he may come out looking less like Virgil van Dijk and more like Shane Duffy. So going to a less competitive league will actually give him time to learn. It also won't hurt that he'll be learning from two of the best centre backs in recent history, Bonucci and Chiellini. In this time he can master his craft whilst winning all the Serie A's he wants and can be part of consistently strong Champions League campaigns which he wouldn't be a part of at Ajax. Also, it can not be understated that one of the main reasons he is going to Juventus is because of one man.

Cristiano Ronaldo.

If you told any player that they could play for the same club as one of the greatest, if not the greatest players ever to kick a ball, they would simply say yes. Why would you say no? Anyone that loves football has watched his stepovers, his free kicks, his goals and to get the chance to watch him upfront and even have him step over past you. You just say yes.

But what after Juventus and Ronaldo? De Ligt will likely sign a huge 5-year deal at Juventus but that should be it. He shouldn't sign any contract extensions and should view Juventus as a stepping stone. He can use the next few years to become one of the best centre backs in Europe and then, once he's proven himself after about 4 years, move to a true giant.

If he continues on his path all the European heavyweights will be interested in him every transfer window to come; everyone wants a ball-playing defender who can still stop any attack. So then he waves goodbye to the Old Lady, says thank you very much and goes to either Spain or England. He should go to Spain if he wants to win trophies as he'll be able to there, but he should go to England if he wants to prove his defensive ability with it being the most competitive and physical league in the world. Either way, he will still be around 24 which for a centre back is still extremely young. Most young defenders are still playing cup games for their club and maybe getting a game in the league which really puts into perspective de Ligt's age and ability.

Of course, I could have got everything completely wrong and he could stay at Juventus. I wouldn't be able to blame him too much as within a few years he could be in one of the strongest defences in Europe with the centre back partnership of Bonucci and himself. He could be captaining both Juventus and Holland where he could be the figurehead of a new golden generation for the country. And he could have won the Champions League, proving to Europe and myself that Juventus are still on level with City, Barcelona etc.

Whatever happens, going to Juventus is the best choice for de Ligt as it gives him time to build his ability without being thrown straight into the footballing deep end. And of course even if he fails at Juve he's still incredibly young, made huge amounts of money from the bumper contract he'll get and a team like Arsenal will still sign him for big money to attempt to bring back his Ajax form. But in my opinion, he won't fail. He will become the best centre back in the world whether it be at Juventus or somewhere else.

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