Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt (Dutch pronunciation: [mɑˈtɛis də ˈlɪxt]; born 12 August 1999) is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a defender for Serie A club Juventus and the Netherlands national team.[3]

Matthijs de Ligt
Matthijs de Ligt 2018.jpg
De Ligt in training with Ajax in 2018
Personal information
Full name Matthijs de Ligt[1]
Date of birth (1999-08-12) 12 August 1999 (age 20)
Place of birth Leiderdorp, Netherlands
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)[2]
Playing position(s) Centre-back
Club information
Current team
Number 4
Youth career
2008–2016 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2016–2017 Jong Ajax 17 (1)
2016–2019 Ajax 77 (8)
2019– Juventus 24 (3)
National team
2014–2015 Netherlands U15 5 (0)
2014–2015 Netherlands U16 8 (0)
2015–2016 Netherlands U17 14 (1)
2016 Netherlands U19 6 (0)
2017– Netherlands 23 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 July 2020
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 19 November 2019

On 21 September 2016, De Ligt made his debut for Ajax's senior team in a cup game against Willem II. He scored from a corner after 25 minutes, making him the second-youngest goalscorer ever behind Clarence Seedorf.[4] On 24 May, he became the youngest player ever (17 years and 285 days old) to play in a major European final when he started against Manchester United in the 2017 UEFA Europa League Final.[5] On 17 December 2018, De Ligt won the Golden Boy award, becoming the first defender to win the award.[6] The following season, he helped Ajax capture a domestic double and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League; his performances earned him a move to Serie A side Juventus, and saw him win the Kopa Trophy in 2019.

In 2017, De Ligt made his debut for the Netherlands at the age of 17, making him the youngest player to start for the national team since 1931.[7]

Club careerEdit


De Ligt joined the Ajax youth academy when he was 9 years old from his local club in Abcoude, just outside of Amsterdam. At first the coaches at the youth academy thought he was too slow and out of shape, but he was given a chance to develop in the academy and went on to prove his quality.[8]

2016–17: Jong Ajax and developmentEdit

He made his debut for Jong Ajax on 8 August 2016 in an Eerste Divisie game against FC Emmen, playing the full game.[9] During the season, De Ligt played in 17 matches for Jong Ajax.[10]

On 21 September, De Ligt made his debut for Ajax's senior team in a cup game against Willem II. He scored from a corner after 25 minutes, making him the second-youngest goalscorer ever behind Clarence Seedorf; Ajax won the game 5–0.[4] On 24 October, Ajax announced through Twitter that De Ligt had been promoted to the senior squad.[11]

De Ligt quickly established himself in the first team after being promoted and went on to play in 11 league matches and nine in the Europa League.[12] On 24 May, he became the youngest player ever (17 years and 285 days old) to play in a major European final when he started against Manchester United in the 2017 UEFA Europa League Final.[5]

2017–19: Breakthrough and captaincyEdit

After the sale of Davinson Sánchez to Tottenham Hotspur in August 2017, De Ligt became a first team starter. He was named the youngest captain of Ajax in March 2018 after injury to club captain Joel Veltman.[13]

De Ligt appeared in 37 matches in all competitions and scored three goals. He started in all of his 31 league matches and played 90 minutes in all but one of them (he was substituted in the 33rd minute against Vitesse Arnhem due to an injury).[14] Due to De Ligt's performances for Ajax, he was linked with many of Europe's top clubs.[15]

On 17 December 2018, De Ligt won the Golden Boy award, becoming the first defender to win the award.[6] On 13 February 2019, De Ligt became the youngest ever captain in a Champions League knockout game at 19 years and 186 days old, in a game against Real Madrid.[16] On 27 February 2019, he played his 100th official game for Ajax in a 0–3 Klassieker win against Feyenoord in the Dutch national cup, becoming the youngest Ajax player ever to reach this milestone.[17]

On 16 April 2019, De Ligt scored the winning goal in the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus to send Ajax on to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since the 1996–97 edition of the tournament.[18][19] His goal also saw him become the youngest Dutch player to score in the knockout stages since Nordin Wooter in 1996 and the second-youngest ever defender to score after Joël Matip.[20]


De Ligt blocking a shot against Lokomotiv Moscow during the 2019–20 season

On 18 July 2019, De Ligt signed for Serie A champions Juventus on a five-year contract for a fee of €75 million, to be paid in five annual installments, with additional costs of €10.5 million.[21] He made his official debut for the club in a 4–3 home win over Napoli in Serie A on 31 August.[22] On 3 November, he scored his first for the club in a 1–0 away win over cross-city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole.[23][24]

International careerEdit

On 25 March 2017, De Ligt made his debut for the Dutch national team in a 2–0 away defeat to Bulgaria in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match. National team coach, Danny Blind, called De Ligt up for the national team despite having only started two league games for Ajax. At the age of 17, he became the youngest player to start for the national team since 1931.[7]

During the UEFA Nations League, De Ligt started and played 90 minutes in all four group matches against Germany and France as the Netherlands won the group and qualified for the inaugural Nations League Finals.[25] In the semi-finals on 5 June, he scored a header against England as his team secured a spot in the final,[26] where the Netherlands would be defeated 0–1 by Portugal.[27]

Style of playEdit

De Ligt is considered by pundits to be among the most highly regarded young prospects in world football, as demonstrated by his victory in the 2018 Golden Boy award, which is assigned to the most impressive young player in European football.[28][29]

Having played as an attacking midfielder in his youth,[30] De Ligt is both a physical and technically gifted right-footed centre-back,[31][32] who is known for his clean tackling, anticipation, marking, height, strength, speed and accurate passing, which enables him to start attacking plays from the back; moreover, his height allows him to be a major threat from set pieces, whilst his strength means that he is unlikely to be pushed off the ball, particularly in aerial duels.[32][33][34][35] His playing style is often compared to that of Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué;[36][37] he has also been likened to Jan Vertonghen, due to his "similar forward surges, a propensity to create an extra man in midfield, and calmness on the ball," and to compatriot Ronald Koeman, courtesy of his "powerful shot and body strength."[38]

A 2019 profile described De Ligt with the following words: "A natural leader, De Ligt is an elegant two-footed central defender. Dominant in the air, he is blessed with strength, fine distribution and composure, and is able to play out from the back thanks to his confidence in possession, while his intelligent positioning helps him deny pacy forwards. With his ability to read the game, he could even play in midfield. His leadership also stands him out: he was 18 when he was made Ajax skipper."[38] That same year, Paul Wilkes of The Independent also noted that "De Ligt’s ability to play out from the back and organise his fellow teammates are valuable commodities in a time when the lack of quality defenders has been highlighted."[39]

Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher praised De Ligt for his "physical attributes" and "leadership qualities". Furthermore, Carragher went on to say he plays "like he's 24 or 25" indicating maturity and strength.[40][41][42] Former Netherlands centre-back Jaap Stam said De Ligt: "He's got composure on the ball, he's aggressive tactically, he sees the game, he reads the game well and he's got that driving force for himself as well in what you need to achieve and where you want to go to."[38] Upon signing with Juventus, one of the club's former managers, Marcello Lippi, instead said of the defender's precocious performances: "I've seen plenty of greats, like Alessandro Nesta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Ciro Ferrara, Fabio Cannavaro, and Marco Materazzi. I've never seen anyone like that at his age."[38]

In 2019, Giacomo Chiuchiolo described De Ligt as a "complete" and talented young defender, noting that although he is not exceptionally quick, he possesses excellent positioning and an ability to read the game, among his other technical and physical qualities.[43] Despite his talent, however, he has come under criticism at times in the media for being inconsistent, due to his tendency to commit occasional lapses or errors, although his Juventus defensive teammate Leonardo Bonucci has stated that he believes that De Ligt will overcome these weaknesses with time, as he matures and gains more experience with age, and successfully adapts to the team's new defensive strategy under manager Maurizio Sarri, who uses a zonal system rather than man–to–man marking.[44]

Career statisticsEdit


As of match played 4 July 2020[3]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup Europe1 Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Jong Ajax 2016–17 Eerste Divisie 17 1 17 1
Ajax 2016–17 Eredivisie 11 2 3 1 9 0 23 3
2017–18 Eredivisie 33 3 2 0 4 0 39 3
2018–19 Eredivisie 33 3 5 1 17 3 55 7
Total 77 8 10 2 30 2 0 0 117 13
Juventus 2019–20 Serie A 24 3 4 0 5 0 0 0 33 3
Career total 118 12 14 2 35 2 0 0 167 17

1 Includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches.


As of match played 19 November 2019[3]
National team Year Apps Goals
Netherlands 2017 3 0
2018 10 0
2019 10 2
Total 23 2

International goalsEdit

As of match played 19 November 2019. Netherlands score listed first, score column indicates score after each De Ligt goal.
International goals by date, venue, cap, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1 24 March 2019 Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands 15   Germany 1–2 2–3 UEFA Euro 2020 qualification [45]
2 6 June 2019 Estádio D. Afonso Henriques, Guimarães, Portugal 16   England 1–1 3–1 (a.e.t.) 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals [46]







  1. ^ "Comunicato Ufficiale N. 37" [Official Press Release No. 37] (PDF). Lega Serie A. 17 September 2019. p. 5. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Matthijs de Ligt".
  3. ^ a b c d e "Netherlands – M. de Ligt – Profile with news, career statistics and history – Soccerway". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b "De Ligt jongste scorende Ajacied na Seedorf".
  5. ^ a b "Youngest player to ever play a European final: Matthijs de Ligt". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Ajax's Matthijs De Ligt beats Trent Alexander-Arnold to Golden Boy award". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Matthijs de Ligt suffers nightmare debut as Holland are stunned by Bulgaria". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Believe the hype: Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong are next big stars on radar of Barca, Man City". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Jong Ajax vs. Emmen – 8 August 2016 – Soccerway". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  10. ^ "matthijs-de-ligt career". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Mooi nieuws voor Matthijs de Ligt: Peter Bosz heeft de verdediger per direct aan de A-selectie toegevoegd".
  12. ^ "matthijs-de-ligt career". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  13. ^ "De Ligt als de nieuwe norm bij Ajax" (in Dutch). Algemeen Dagblad. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  14. ^ "matthijs-de-ligt career". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  15. ^ "Matthijs de Ligt profile: How good is the teenage Ajax defender?". Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Matthijs de Ligt Becomes The Youngest Captain In A Champions League Knockout Game".
  17. ^ "De Ligt jongste speler ooit in Club van 100".
  18. ^ James, Stuart (16 April 2019). "Matthijs de Ligt strikes decisive header for Ajax to overcome Juventus". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Ajax eliminate Ronaldo's Juve with scintillating display". Reuters. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  20. ^ Dorman, Matt (17 April 2019). "'We're not satisfied' - De Ligt claims Ajax aren't done chasing Champions League dream". Goal. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  21. ^ "De Ligt is Bianconero!". Juventus F.C. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  22. ^ Begley, Emlyn (31 August 2019). "Juventus–Napoli 4–3". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  23. ^ "Torino 0–1 Juventus". BBC Sport. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Torino 0 - 1 Juventus". Football Italia. 2 November 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  25. ^ "UEFA Nations League". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  26. ^ Atkin, John (6 June 2019). "Netherlands 3-1 England: Nations League at a glance". Estádio D. Afonso Henriques: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  27. ^ Taylor, Daniel (9 June 2019). "Portugal win Nations League as Gonçalo Guedes does for the Netherlands". Estádio do Dragão. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Matthijs de Ligt profile: How good is the teenage Ajax defender?". Sky Sports. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  29. ^ "De Ligt beats Alexander-Arnold to Golden Boy". 17 December 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  30. ^ "Juventus' Matthijs De Ligt on the art of defending". 8 May 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  31. ^ "De Boer says De Ligt sprung a surprise by choosing Juventus". 28 April 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  32. ^ a b Triolo, Daniele (23 October 2018). "Mezza Europa su de Ligt: c'è anche il Milan" (in Italian). Pianeta Milan. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Tactical analysis: Matthijs de Ligt & his statistics". Total Football Analysis Magazine. 28 September 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  34. ^ Bremen, Griffin O'Neill (30 April 2017). "Scout Report: Matthijs De Ligt | Ajax's Accomplished Defender". Outside of the Boot. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  35. ^ Palma, Massimiliano (18 May 2016). "Matthijs de Ligt: 1999 – Olanda" (in Italian). Generazione Talenti. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  36. ^ "De Ligt: I am similar to Pique... and Ajax's style is like Barcelona's". sport. 1 December 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  37. ^ "Barcelona news: 'I am similar to Pique' - De Ligt compares himself to Spanish defender amid transfer links |". 1 December 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  38. ^ a b c d Mohamed, Majid (19 July 2019). "How brilliant is new Juventus signing Matthijs de Ligt?". Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  39. ^ Wilkes, Paul (10 April 2019). "Ajax vs Juventus: Meet Matthijs de Ligt, the best young defender on the planet and the future of Dutch football". The Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  40. ^ "Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt: Jamie Carragher analyses brilliant Netherlands pair". Sky Sports. 13 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  41. ^ Polden, Jake (6 June 2019). "Carragher explains what he saw De Ligt do that really impressed him". mirror. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  42. ^ Labellarte, Giuseppe (6 June 2019). "Jamie Carragher shares honest opinion of reported Liverpool target Matthijs de Ligt". HITC. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  43. ^ Chiuchiolo, Giacomo (23 June 2019). "De Ligt, dal tennis al tetto d'Europa: storia del talento che ha stregato la Juve" (in Italian). Gianluca di Marzio. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  44. ^ Jones, Matt (24 October 2019). "Leonardo Bonucci: Matthijs de Ligt 'Will Become the Best Defender in the World'". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  45. ^ Hafez, Shamoon (25 March 2019). "Netherlands 2–3 Germany". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  46. ^ McNulty, Phil (6 June 2019). "Netherlands 3–1 England". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  47. ^ "2016/17: United win it for Manchester". UEFA. 30 May 2017.
  48. ^ "Coppa: Napoli beat Juventus on penalties". Football Italia. 17 June 2020.
  49. ^ Smyth, Rob (9 June 2019). "Portugal 1–0 The Netherlands". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  50. ^ "Future Cup: De Ligt speler van het toernooi". (in Dutch). Ajax Showtime.
  51. ^ "Ajax contracteert Matthijs de Ligt". (in Dutch). AFC Ajax.
  52. ^ "Matthijs de Ligt verkozen tot Talent van de Toekomst". (in Dutch). AFC Ajax.
  53. ^ "Matthijs de Ligt Ajax-talent van het jaar". (in Dutch).
  54. ^ "UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season". UEFA. 25 May 2017.
  55. ^ "UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season". 2 June 2019.
  56. ^ "ELFTAL VAN HET SEIZOEN 2017/2018 BEKEND" (in Dutch). Eredivisie. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  57. ^ "Frenkie de Jong Eredivisiespeler van het seizoen 2018/2019" (in Dutch). Eredivisie. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  58. ^ "De Jong named Eredivisie talent of the year". RTL Nieuws. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  59. ^ "Toch triple voor Matthijs de Ligt". (in Dutch). De Telegraaf. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  60. ^ "De Ligt wins 2018 Golden Boy". Football Italia. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  61. ^ "Final Ranking: The Best FIFA Men's Player 2019" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  62. ^ "VAN DIJK AMONG FOUR DEBUTANTS IN MEN'S WORLD 11". FIFPro World Players' Union. 23 September 2019.
  63. ^ "IFFHS AWARDS 2019 – THE IFFHS MEN WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR 2019". IFFHS. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  64. ^ "De Ligt wint Kopa Trophy voor 's werelds beste speler tot 21 jaar". (in Dutch). 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  65. ^ Arts, Electronic (6 January 2020). "EA SPORTS FIFA TEAM OF THE YEAR — FIFA 20 — Official Site". Electronic Arts Inc. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  66. ^ " fans' Team of the Year 2019 revealed". UEFA. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 15 January 2020.

External linksEdit