Matthijs de Ligt has revealed why he decided against a potential move to Manchester United last summer and chose to join Juventus instead.
The Ajax skipper was in-demand after leading the Dutch giants to the Champions League semi-finals, with Barcelona and the Red Devils amongst a host of clubs chasing his signature.
However, the 20-year-old eventually opted to make a £67.5million move to Turin, where he has experienced a tough first season in Serie A.
His struggles settling in Italy have reportedly led to United eyeing a second move, with the Daily Star claiming that unsettled Red Devils midfielder Paul Pogba could be used as a sweetener in any deal.
But De Ligt has now shed new light on why he opted to join Juventus in the first place, snubbing United and Barca in the process.
In an interview with team-mate Wojciech Szczesny for YouTube channel Foot Truck, De Ligt recalled his fond memories of Turin, collecting the Golden Boy award in the city alongside his girlfriend.
He also revealed some words of encouragement from Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as a strong message from Juve over his maturity which factored into his decision and ultimately led to him snubbing United.
“Last season I played for Ajax and won the Golden Boy [award], and it was here in Turin where I collected it,” De Ligt said.
“That was the first time I travelled with my girlfriend to another place. Before I [signed] here, we already completed Turin.
“Of course, I had a lot of time to choose between the clubs I could join and, when I put everything on paper, Juventus were the best choice for me. Ronaldo did speak to me and obviously it was a big honour!
“Juventus told me ‘the reason we want to buy you is because you’re already mature and you know how to handle pressure.’
“They also said to me it was difficult for a 19-year-old to go to another country, but ‘we have confidence in you and you’ll find your place soon.’
“When I went into the dressing room for the first time, I was like a kid in a sweet shop! After two months, I felt like I could be myself more.”
Despite his struggles adapting to life in Serie A, Juve are still expected to resist any offers for De Ligt, as they are prepared to give the young defender the benefit of the doubt and see how he copes in his second season in Italian football.
And it seems De Ligt’s glowing assessment of Juventus and his reasons for joining them will all-but end their hopes of securing his signing this summer, with a report on Monday claiming he had emerged as one of their four top targets this summer.
Meanwhile, United have seemingly been given a big lift to their hopes of signing Atletico Madrid winger Thomas Lemar this summer.
Spanish website Diario Madridista claims that the LaLiga giants are looking to offload the 24-year-old Red Devils target to finance another deal. Read more…