Former Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt insists his €75 million move to Seria A side Juventus was driven by personal ambition, with Cristiano Ronaldo having no influence on his decision to sign for the Italian giants.
After seeing his future at Ajax become the subject of much speculation over recent months, the Netherlands defender has finally brought a long-running transfer saga to a close.
Barcelona and Manchester United were among those said to be interested in signing the central defender, but they were ultimately left empty-handed as he ended up signing for Juve.
It had been suggested that the chat he had with Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after the UEFA Nations League final in June helped to sway De Ligt’s thinking, but he says that is not the case.
“After the Nations League final I was already sure that I wanted to join Juventus, but it was still a big compliment to have Cristiano ask me to join here but it didn’t make the difference,” De Ligt told reporters at his first press conference as a Juventus player.
“I came here because Italy is one of the most traditional countries for defenders. Juventus is a great forwards step for me.
“I spoke to [Maurizio] Sarri on the phone before coming just to get to know each other. 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 defence.
“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. I always had a good feeling about Juventus and I’ve always been a fan.”
De Ligt is convinced that he has made the right decision at this point of his career, with there a desire on his part to improve in Italy while adding to his collection of major honours.
The Dutchman said of his ambition: “There are four competitions and we want to win them all. This is the mentality of Juventus.
“It’s a big step, my first outside of my home country. I was really honoured with how the Juventus fans welcomed me and I hope that I can give a lot back.
“I’m still young but I feel like I’ve got a lot of experience for a 19-year-old, that’s why I made this move to gain more experience and to learn from the players here.
“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 will be wearing the No. 4 shirt at Juventus and is determined to prove himself at the club.
He added: “The number four for me has always been special, I wore it since the youth teams of Ajax. It has an important legacy here too at Juventus, so I hope to live up to this number.”