Why Elite Sides Juve, Barca & Man City Are Chasing Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt

 “To be honest, we didn’t play at 100 per cent, but we won 7-1. The difference between the sides in the Eredivisie right now is huge.

“The tension is less each time as there’s only two teams who are racking up the points. If we keep winning, it won’t be a problem, but we have to admit that it’s less fun.”

This was a brutal assessment of The Netherlands domestic league from Ajax youngster Matthijs de Ligt after his team’s recent 7-1 win over Excelsior in the Eredivisie.

His comments were then followed up wth the following from Dutch national team manager Ronald Koeman:

“I think it’s clear that a player like Matthijs de Ligt in a certain moment decides to make a step to a bigger league, to another level. Unfortunately, players leave the Netherlands earlier than in my time.”

Both of these statements will have interested many a top team manager and director of football throughout Europe.

Many might look at these recent comments and may want to test the waters with a big bid.

But why would some of Europe’s major clubs be interested in Matthijs?

Well De Ligt is potentially one of the best defensive talents in the game.

The Ajax man has the skill-set to become a world class defender. As well as impressing in the Dutch top flight, De Ligt has also shone in the Champions League.

The international is a natural central defender. He’s a determined character, who possess good pace and that often sees him winning tackles and interceptions.  In the tougher games in Europe’s elite competition this year, De Ligt has made on average three tackles per game.

Matthijs is also pretty decent in the air too, winning around three headers in his fourteen games for de Godenzonen in this campaign.

We all know teams like Juve, Barca and City want more than just strong defensive qualities in their defenders. Again the nineteen year old Ajax centre-back would easily tick that box.

The tall defender looks very elegant when on the ball, is extremely efficient when passing and always seems to be composed.

In the Eredivisie this term, the central defender has a 91% passing success rate. That would be ideal for a club like Pep Guardiola’s Man City or Max Allegri’s Juventus as they are well known for controlling games and bossing possession.

Like compatriot Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs can step forward and dribble into the opponent’s half.

The young Netherlands internationalist has shown that he has the qualities to be at one of the world’s best clubs and with Mino Raiola as his agent I’d expect him to leave Ajax within the next two transfer windows (probably next summer).

If recent reports are to be believed then Serie A champions Juventus are leading City and Barca in the chase for Matthijs de Ligt’s signature.

Joining the Italian giants would be a smart move, as he could learn a lot from their world class centre-backs like Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chellini.

Wherever De Ligt ends up, he’ll have to prove that’s he is more than just potential. That’s sometimes the hardest part for any potential world class performer.

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