De Ligt for Juventus!

Updated: Jul 19, 2019, 12:11 IST | AFP

Dutch teenager becomes world's most expensive defender after sealing a deal with Italian champions for a fee of 75 million euros (Rs 579cr)

De Ligt for Juventus!
Dutch central defender Matthijs de Ligt. Pic /Getty Images

Rome: Dutch central defender Matthijs de Ligt, one of the most coveted young players in world football, signed yesterday for Juventus from Ajax for a fee of 75 million euros (Rs 579cr) plus add ons.

De Ligt, 19, agreed a five-year contract with the Italian champions. Juventus said in a statement the fee would be paid over five financial years, with additional costs of 10.5 million euros. The combined fee makes De Ligt the world's most expensive defender, surpassing the 84 million euros Liverpool paid to sign his Netherlands teammate Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton in 2018.

Amongst the elite

De Ligt is Juventus's third most expensive signing after the 105 million euros they paid to buy Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in 2018 and the 90-million-euro transfer of Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli in 2016.

De Ligt had also been linked with Manchester United, Barcelona and PSG after his impressive performances for a young Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. His Ajax teammate, midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 22, has already joined Barcelona.

In a deal hammered out by his powerful Italian-born Dutch agent Mino Raiola, De Ligt will earn a basic annual salary of 7.5 million euros that could reach 12 million euros with bonuses, according to reports in Italy.

"The sporting project proved decisive" in De Ligt's decision to choose Juventus. "For a defender, Italy is always an ideal place."

Boost for ageing defence

The Turin-based club, now coached by former Chelsea mentor Maurizio Sarri, were keen to bring new blood into an ageing defence that features Giorgio Chiellini, 34, and Leonardo Bonucci, 32. De Ligt played 117 games for Ajax in all competitions, scoring 13 goals.

He scored the winner in Turin as Ajax eliminated Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals. De Ligt has played 17 times for the Netherlands, forming a formidable central defensive partnership with Van Dijk.

He took over the captain's armband at Ajax in March 2018, making him the club's youngest ever captain.

De Ligt said Ronaldo had urged him to join Juventus after the two faced each other for their countries in the Nations League final in June won by Portugal.

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