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De Ligt explains picking Juventus over Barcelona as he remains on learning curve

The Dutch defender had his choice of Europe’s top clubs last summer, with PSG also keen, but he maintains that Italy is the best place for him

Matthijs de Ligt had the pick of Europe’s leading clubs in the summer of 2019 and remains convinced that he made the right choice in choosing Juventus over Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Dutch defender has not enjoyed the smoothest of rides since swapping the comforting surrounds of life in the Eredivisie for the pressure cooker of Serie A.

Having become club captain at Ajax while still in his teens and established a reputation as one of the hottest prospects in world football, big things were expected of De Ligt in Italy.

He has faced the odd question of his form this season, with the 20-year-old centre-half considered to still have much to learn.

De Ligt admits as much and maintains that Turin is the best place for his development.

The option was there for him to head for Barca or PSG last summer, but the Bianconeri are considered to be the right team to unlock the potential which still exists in a former winner of the prestigious Golden Boy award.

Explaining the important career call he made when opting to leave Amsterdam, De Ligt told Ziggo Sport: “I had offers last summer from Juventus, PSG and Barcelona, so I studied the various options and at the end of the day concluded I could grow faster at Juve.

“They have a particular style and I knew being here would make me a more complete player.”

De Ligt accepts that his standards have dipped at times in his debut campaign with Juve, but he has plenty of experienced heads around him ready to pass on priceless words of wisdom.

He added on his first experience outside of the Netherlands: “There are more eyes on you and people expect a great deal, all of which is new compared to my time at Ajax.

“I think that I’ve done well in every match since the start of November and I am happy that the club has faith in me.

“I was on the bench for a little while and talked it over with the coach. I then had that problem with my shoulder and then a groin strain, so I couldn’t train.

“The coach [Maurizio Sarri] told me very clearly: ‘Calm down, we need you further along in the season and in your best shape, so there’s no rush.’

“I also had to learn the language, as at the start it was just me and Aaron Ramsey who couldn’t speak Italian. We both spoke English, so spent a lot of time together.

“[Giorgio] Chiellini also speaks English and he helped me a great deal. It was tough at first, when we sat around the table and everyone spoke Italian, but I took lessons along with my girlfriend.”

De Ligt has taken in 26 appearances for Juventus across all competitions this season, with the intention being to help them chase down another Serie A title and Champions League crown.

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