De Ligt: Cristiano Ronaldo "was not the decisive factor" in Juventus move
Cristiano Ronaldo's encouragement was a "big compliment" for Matthijs de Ligt, but not the decisive factor in him choosing Juventus.
Matthijs de Ligt denied Cristiano Ronaldo convinced him to join Juventus but cited Maurizio Sarri as an important factor in his €85.5million move. Dutch defender De Ligt spoke to the media and was presented with the number four shirt on Friday, 24 hours after completing a high-profile transfer from Ajax.
A word in the ear from Cristiano
The 19-year-old attracted interest from Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain but confirmed his heart was already set on Juve by the time he crossed with paths with Ronaldo in Portugal last month. They locked horns in the Nations League final, during which the Bianconeri superstar told centre-back De Ligt to choose Turin as his next destination.
"At that moment I was pretty sure it was Juventus but obviously it was nice that someone big like Cristiano Ronaldo asked me if I wanted to join," De Ligt said. "It was a big compliment but it was not the difference between me joining and not joining."
De Ligt's love of catenaccio
Rather, De Ligt's interest in a switch to Serie A stemmed from his deep-rooted admiration of Italian defenders, including former Juve man and World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro. Sarri's tactical approach runs counter to many of the country's established ideals but proved every bit as enticing for De Ligt, a player educated in possession football at Ajax.
"I spoke to him on the phone really briefly just to get to know each other," the ex-Ajax captain said. "He's one of the reasons I wanted to come to Juventus because I heard a lot of good stories about him, the way he plays, the philosophy he has - attacking football - the defending line and how he prepares them. Obviously there was a big reason to come here."
Learning from Juve's experienced players
Already considered one of Europe's finest in his position, the teenager is now seeking to accelerate his already advanced development as part of a star-studded dressing room. "Ajax was a younger environment and here I hope that I can learn from great champions like [Giorgio] Chiellini, Gianluigi Buffon, Cristiano and many others," he said.
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