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Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt

Dutch professional football player

Matthijs de Ligt (Dutch pronunciation: [mɑˈtɛiz də ˈlɪxt]; born 12 August 1999) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Serie A club Juventus and the Netherlands national team.

On 21 September 2016, De Ligt made his debut for Ajax's senior team in a cup game against Willem II. He scored from a corner after 25 minutes, making him the second-youngest goalscorer ever behind Clarence Seedorf. On 24 May, he became the youngest player ever (17 years and 285 days old) to play in a major European final when he started against Manchester United in the 2017 UEFA Europa League Final. On 17 December 2018, De Ligt won the Golden Boy award, becoming the first defender to win the award. The following season, he helped Ajax capture a domestic double and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League; his performances earned him a move to Serie A side Juventus, and saw him win the Kopa Trophy in 2019. He won the Serie A title during his first season with the Turin side.

In 2017, De Ligt made his debut for the Netherlands at the age of 17, making him the youngest player to start for the national team since 1931. He featured for the side at UEFA Euro 2020.

Ajax

De Ligt played for Ajax between 2008 and 2019.

De Ligt joined the Ajax youth academy when he was 9 years old from his local club in Abcoude, just outside of Amsterdam. At first the coaches at the youth academy thought he was too slow and out of shape, but he was given a chance to develop in the academy and went on to prove his quality.

2016–17: Jong Ajax and development

He made his debut for Jong Ajax on 8 August 2016 in an Eerste Divisie game against FC Emmen, playing the full game.During the season, De Ligt played in 17 matches for Jong Ajax.

017–19: Breakthrough and captaincy

After the sale of Davinson Sánchez to Tottenham Hotspur in August 2017, De Ligt became a first team starter. He was named the youngest captain of Ajax in March 2018 after injury to club captain Joel Veltman.

De Ligt appeared in 37 matches in all competitions and scored three goals. He started in all of his 31 league matches and played 90 minutes in all but one of them (he was substituted in the 33rd minute against Vitesse Arnhem due to an injury). Due to De Ligt's performances for Ajax, he was linked with many of Europe's top clubs.

On 17 December 2018, De Ligt won the Golden Boy award, becoming the first defender to win the award. On 13 February 2019, De Ligt became the youngest ever captain in a Champions League knockout game at 19 years and 186 days old, in a game against Real Madrid. On 27 February 2019, he played his 100th official game for Ajax in a 0–3 Klassieker win against Feyenoord in the Dutch national cup, becoming the youngest Ajax player ever to reach this milestone.

On 16 April 2019, De Ligt scored the winning goal in the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus to send Ajax on to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since the 1996–97 edition of the tournament. His goal also saw him become the youngest Dutch player to score in the knockout stages since Nordin Wooter in 1996 and the second-youngest ever defender to score after Joël Matip.

Juventus

De Ligt with Juventus blocking a shot against Lokomotiv Moscow during the 2019–20 season

On 18 July 2019, De Ligt signed for Serie A champions Juventus on a five-year contract for a fee of €75 million, to be paid in five annual installments, with additional costs of €10.5 million. He made his official debut for the club in a 4–3 home win over Napoli in Serie A on 31 August. On 3 November, he scored his first for the club in a 1–0 away win over cross-city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole.

International career

On 25 March 2017, De Ligt made his debut for the Dutch national team in a 2–0 away defeat to Bulgaria in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match. National team coach, Danny Blind, called De Ligt up for the national team despite having only started two league games for Ajax. At the age of 17, he became the youngest player to start for the national team since 1931.

During the UEFA Nations League, De Ligt started and played 90 minutes in all four group matches against Germany and France as the Netherlands won the group and qualified for the inaugural Nations League Finals. In the semi-finals on 5 June, he scored a header against England as his team secured a spot in the final, where the Netherlands would be defeated 0–1 by Portugal.

On 27 June 2021, he was sent off for handball in the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 against Czech Republic, in which the Netherlands later conceded two goals and were eliminated from the competition.

Style of play

De Ligt is considered by pundits to be among the most highly regarded young prospects in world football, as demonstrated by his victory in the 2018 Golden Boy award, which is assigned to the most impressive young player in European football.

Having played as an attacking midfielder in his youth, De Ligt is both a physical and technically gifted right-footed centre-back, who is known for his clean tackling, anticipation, marking, height, strength, speed and accurate passing, which enables him to start attacking plays from the back; moreover, his height allows him to be a major threat from set pieces, whilst his strength means that he is unlikely to be pushed off the ball, particularly in aerial duels. His playing style is often compared to that of Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué; he has also been likened to Jan Vertonghen, due to his "similar forward surges, a propensity to create an extra man in midfield, and calmness on the ball," and to compatriot Ronald Koeman, courtesy of his "powerful shot and body strength."

A 2019 UEFA.com profile described De Ligt with the following words: "A natural leader, De Ligt is an elegant two-footed central defender. Dominant in the air, he is blessed with strength, fine distribution and composure, and is able to play out from the back thanks to his confidence in possession, while his intelligent positioning helps him deny pacy forwards. With his ability to read the game, he could even play in midfield. His leadership also stands him out: he was 18 when he was made Ajax skipper." That same year, Paul Wilkes of The Independent also noted that "De Ligt’s ability to play out from the back and organise his fellow teammates are valuable commodities in a time when the lack of quality defenders has been highlighted."

Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher praised De Ligt for his "physical attributes" and "leadership qualities". Furthermore, Carragher went on to say he plays "like he's 24 or 25" indicating maturity and strength.Former Netherlands centre-back Jaap Stam said De Ligt: "He's got composure on the ball, he's aggressive tactically, he sees the game, he reads the game well and he's got that driving force for himself as well in what you need to achieve and where you want to go to." Upon signing with Juventus, one of the club's former managers, Marcello Lippi, instead said of the defender's precocious performances: "I've seen plenty of greats, like Alessandro Nesta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Ciro Ferrara, Fabio Cannavaro, and Marco Materazzi. I've never seen anyone like that at his age."

In 2019, Giacomo Chiuchiolo described De Ligt as a "complete" and talented young defender, noting that although he is not exceptionally quick, he possesses excellent positioning and an ability to read the game, among his other technical and physical qualities. Despite his talent, however, he has come under criticism at times in the media for being inconsistent, due to his tendency to commit occasional lapses or errors, although his Juventus defensive teammate Leonardo Bonucci has stated that he believes that De Ligt will overcome these weaknesses with time, as he matures and gains more experience with age, and successfully adapts to the team's new defensive strategy under manager Maurizio Sarri, who uses a zonal system rather than man–to–man marking.

Timeline

August 12, 1999
Matthijs de Ligt was born in Leiderdorp.

Patents

Further Resources

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

De Ligt wins 2018 Golden Boy

Web

December 16, 2018

De Ligt wint Kopa Trophy voor 's werelds beste speler tot 21 jaar

NU.nl

Web

Juventus' Matthijs De Ligt on the art of defending | UEFA Champions League | UEFA.com

UEFA.com

Web

May 8, 2020

Matthijs de Ligt | Goals & Skills | Future Defender | 2014-17| Ajax

Web

May 13, 2017

Matthijs de Ligt 2021/22 - Defensive Skills, Tackles & Goals | HD

Web

December 22, 2021

News

Title
Author
Date
Publisher
Description
June 14, 2021
International Business Times UK
Barcelona president Joan Laporta is keen to bring in a top quality defender this summer. He is targeting a move for Frenkie de Jong's Netherlands teammate Matthijs de Ligt.
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