Despite being only 22 years of age, Matthijs de Ligt has been at the center stage of European for a while.
The defender rose to prominence as an academy product of Ajax who ascended through the ranks to become the club captain of the senior team.
The Netherlands international then sealed a big-money switch to Juventus in 2019 at the tender age of 19.
Although he had his highs and lows in his first two campaigns in Italy, de Ligt is now proving himself to be one of the best in his position on the European stage.
For Jaap Stam, this is a hardly a surprise. The Manchester United legend monitored his young compatriot’s progress during their time together at Ajax.
The retired defender was in charge of the U-23 side, while the Juventus star was a mere 16-year-old. But according to Stam, the youngster had already showcased a maturity well-beyond his age even during that period.
‘I like Matthijs very much. When I was working in Ajax’s U23, he played in the U19 and he came to my team to train,” said the former Lazio and Milan center back in an interview with Sky Sport via ilBianconero.
“I’ve always said that eve at 16, that he was already stronger than the senior players. And now he has improved a lot.
“While he did well in the Netherlands, we wondered if he would manage to break through at Juventus too and he did very well in that regard.
“Even at a bigger club and in a more difficult situation, he is still doing well. Maybe the coach doesn’t always pick him but he is young and he is growing and he will become one of the strongest defenders in the world,” assured Stam.