Mathijs de Ligt is slowly adapting to life in the Italian Serie A. The Dutch international picked a transfer to Juventus ahead of several other big names including FC Barcelona and Manchester when he left Ajax last summer. After a difficult start as a Juventus player, De Ligt admits he is ‘feeling much better physically and mentally’ playing for the Serie A giants.
De Ligt was one of the most wanted players in football last summer after he and Ajax had a stunning season in both the Eredivisie and the Champions League. At the end of the summer transfer window De Ligt completed a move to Juventus in a deal worth €75m. Since joining the Bianconeri, the central defender has made 32 appearances for the club.
During his first few months at the club, De Ligt was struggling with his form and received heavy criticism in both Italy and Holland. But, ever since the restart of the Serie A in June, De Ligt has featured in all five matches Juve have played, helping to keep four clean sheets and even scoring a goal in the club’s 4-0 win over Lecce last week.
“I feel much better physically now and mentally I am in a much, much better place,” he told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Saturday’s Derby della Mole with Torino. In Serie A there are many different strikers. There’s [Romelu] Lukaku, for example, who’s very strong and quick but also [Ciro] Immobile, who’s very good with his back to goal.”
“Every team have great forwards, different from one another, and every match is very difficult. The bar is very high. I try to study them thoroughly before each game in order to be prepared for any outcome.”
De Ligt will meet again with Torino this week and the Dutch international scored the only goal of the game when the rivals met eight months ago. The defender believes this goal was a turning point in his Juventus career. “It’s a special game – both teams want to win for the city and their fans,” he said. “We must do our best, above all in defence, and not give away any chances.”
“Obviously the first derby is a beautiful memory for me because I scored my first goal for the Bianconeri. It also gave us a very important victory. It wasn’t an easy time for me, I received a lot of criticism and I was under pressure. That goal raised my spirits and made me and my team-mates happy. Thanks to that goal, I became the footballer I am today.”