Matthijs de Ligt has revealed he decided to join Juventus some time before he spoke with Cristiano Ronaldo and cited Maurizio Sarri as a ‘big reason’ for him to sign.
The 19-year-old defender completed his transfer to Juve from Ajax on Wednesday and was unveiled as a new Bianconeri player to the assembled press earlier today.
“I played three years for Ajax and got a lot of minutes on the pitch last season, so I think I’ve got a lot of experience for a 19-year-old, but that’s why I made this step, to get more experience and learn from these players because compared to them, I’m just starting out, so hopefully I can get in front of them,” he told gathered journalists.
“It’s a really big step, the first step outside my home country, so it’s something I have to get used to, but I was really honoured by how the Juventus fans welcomed me. I was really proud of that and I hope I can give them a lot back.
“At the time I was still figuring out what I wanted to do and which club I wanted to join after the summer. I already had an idea which one it was, but I always said to Mino [Raiola] I’d decide after the Nations League.
“I was pretty sure it was Juventus but obviously it was nice that Cristiano Ronaldo asked me if I wanted to join Juve. It was a big compliment, but it wasn’t the difference in me joining or not.
“For me, it was very important to take such a step outside my home country and Ajax.
“I know I look calm and that lots of people are happy I’ve joined Juve, but there have been other reactions too, so I have to get used to this environment and new sporting culture, and I truly hope I can do the best with my performances.
“I spoke to Sarri on the phone very quickly to get to know him, nothing more. He’s also one of the reasons I wanted to come to Juve because I heard lots of good stories about him – the way he plays, the philosophy he has, the attacking football, how he prepares the defensive line – so he was a big reason.”