The Dutch defender enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence at Ajax, but admits experiencing some challenging times in Italian football
Matthijs de Ligt admits his 2019 move to Juventus was a step backwards, but the 22-year-old centre-half feels ready to become a leader again after completing a €77 million (£65m/$79m) transfer to Bayern Munich.
The Netherlands international has been a senior star since 2016 and has more than 250 club appearances to his name despite his tender years.
A meteoric rise to prominence saw him become captain for Eredivisie giants Ajax at the age of 19, while also landing the prestigious Golden Boy award, but he found himself working alongside vastly-experienced stars such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci when leaving his homeland for Turin.
After arriving in Italy, De Ligt was no longer viewed as an on-field leader and when quizzed by ESPN on whether that represented a step backwards, the Dutchman said: “Yes, you could say that.
“I was captain at Ajax and felt like I had to lead this team. Of course, if you then go to a team that has such legends in defence and in goal, for a guy of 19 it might be a bit difficult at first to express yourself in the way you actually could.
“In a way, I was less myself but I learned a lot and tried to absorb things every day to become a better player and leader.”
Matthijs de Ligt is officially a Bayern Munich player 🔴 pic.twitter.com/IcnYu7Gvik
A man with 38 international caps is excited to be opening a new chapter in his career with the reigning Bundesliga champions.
He believes Bayern’s brand of football will suit his game better than the one he had to adapt to at Juve, with the man who signed him for the Bianconeri – ex-Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri – moved on within a year of his arrival in Serie A.
De Ligt added: “It’s a completely different style of defending. At Ajax you press really high, you take risks, at Juventus it’s more about what is behind you.
“In Italy the pace of the league is also a little bit slower. They won four World Cups with this playing style, so I completely understand they feel this is the right way to do it.
“I came to Juventus with the idea of playing more attacking football, because Sarri was the coach and he had a really good name in the world of football, played amazing football with Napoli and Chelsea.
“I was expecting more of the Ajax style there, but unfortunately after one year he was sacked.”