It isn't often that a youngster shows maturity at such a high level that it seems the player has been around for years. Matthijs de Ligt was one such youngster, showing immaculate leadership qualities and defensive acumen even before he had legally turned an adult. De Ligt having a bright future was written in the stars.
Born on August 12, 1999, in Leiderdorp, Netherlands, De Ligt began his youth career at the renowned Ajax academy, where he quickly rose through the ranks and made his first-team debut at the age of 17.
De Ligt's playing style is characterized by his exceptional defensive abilities and composure on the ball. Standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall (1.89 meters), he possesses great physical strength and aerial prowess, making him a formidable presence in both penalty areas. His positioning and reading of the game are remarkable for a player of his age.
Not only is De Ligt solid defensively, but he is also comfortable with the ball at his feet. He displays excellent passing range and distribution, often initiating attacks from the back with precise long balls or carrying the ball forward himself. This ability to contribute to the buildup play has earned him comparisons to some of the great ball-playing center-backs of the past.
De Ligt's leadership qualities are evident both on and off the pitch. Despite his young age, he captained Ajax during their impressive run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in the 2018-2019 season. His maturity, confidence, and ability to organize the defense have earned him respect from teammates and opponents alike.
In July 2019, De Ligt made a high-profile transfer to Italian giants Juventus, where he continued to showcase his defensive skills in Serie A.
His performances have cemented his reputation as one of the most promising young center-backs in the world, attracting interest from top clubs across Europe, which earned him a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in 2022.
GOAL takes a look at some of the most interesting facts about the Dutch defender.