The Dutch wonderkid, Matthijs de Ligt is set to make his major international tournament debut for Netherlands at Euro 2020 this summer. The Juventus defender will be looking forward to marshalling the defence for the The Flying Dutchmen. Netherlands skipper Virgil van Djik’s fitness is a subject of major scrutiny as he continues his rehabilitation from an ACL injury. With him being an uncertainty for the Dutchmen at the Euros, De Ligt can have big shoes to fill.
With De Ligt being one of the few positives of Juventus’ disappointing season, he will have his eyes set on helping his national side win the Euro 2020.
De Ligt was born in Leiderdorp, Netherlands. He joined the Ajax youth academy when he was 9 years old from his local club in Abcoude, just outside of Amsterdam. He made his debut for Ajax’s senior team in a cup game against Willem II scoring from a corner after 25 minutes which made him Ajax’s second-youngest goalscorer ever behind Clarence Seedorf.
He started against Manchester United in the 2017 UEFA Europa League Final making him the youngest player ever (17 years and 285 days old) to play in a major European final.
In 2018, De Ligt became the first defender ever to win the Golden Boy award, which is assigned to the most impressive young player in European football.
At just 19 years of age, he captained Ajax and helped them win the domestic double and reach the Champions League semi-finals proving that he is a born leader and has an insane personality and leadership despite his young age.
His scintillating performances for Ajax secured him a big money move to the Turin side, Juventus, for a fee around €75 Million. He won the Serie A title in his first season there.
In 2017 at 17 years of age he made his international debut for Netherlands, making him the youngest player to start for the national team since 1931. 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. In the semi-finals, he scored a header against England as his team secured a spot in the final, where the Netherlands lost 1-0 at the hands of Portugal.
HE IS NO JOKE
At 21 years of age, there is nothing De Ligt cannot do from a defensive standpoint. He is quick, intelligent, immensely strong and a joy to watch on the ball. The 1.89 metres tall Dutchman masters all technical, tactical and mental abilities at such a young age. His tactical knowledge is proved by his 93% passing accuracy in Serie A this season, making him one of the most stable defenders on the ball. He has the body and seize of a centre-back and has incredible anticipation and reading of the game in 1v1s. He is unbelievably good at marking and tracking the runners as well.
Nevertheless, what probably defines Matthijs de Ligt the most is his maturity and leadership.
🏆 2018 Golden Boy
🏆 2018/19 Eredivisie
🏆 2019 Kopa Trophy
🏆 2019/20 Serie A
He may only be 21, but Matthijs de Ligt has already established himself as one of the world's best central defenders. 🤝
𝑾𝒆𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝑻𝒐 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝑪𝒍𝒂𝒔𝒔 | #W2WC
— 90min (@90min_Football) December 7, 2020
He is extremely vocal, constantly raising his arms and giving instructions. Not only does he make others be focused, but he makes them better too. And that’s one of the most valuable skills for a defender. The Dutchman makes his teammates confident and self-assured as, no matter what happens, De Ligt will be there to solve it. He is one of the best all around centre-backs who has been in constant improvement at Juventus.
THE DUTCH DEFENSIVE DEPTH
Netherlands and their manager Frank De Boer has multiple experienced and talented options for the backline with the likes of Stephan De Vrij, Daley Blind, Nathan Ake and Denzel Dumfries. But the Juventus young gun would be a no brainer first option for his manager at Euro 2020. If their captain, Virgil Van Djik can return in time from his rehabilitation for the European Championship and be there with his defensive comrade De Ligt, it would be a major task for other teams to get through this strong line of defence.
The Dutch have been drawn in Group C of Euro 2020 alongside Ukraine, Austria and debutants North Macedonia. While they are expected to comfortably make it out of their group, their opponents will be no pushover either. Ukraine and Austria have well-drilled squads based on astute coaching while how North Macedonia will perform is anybody’s guess in their Euro bow.
With Matthijs de Ligt and an overall talented squad in all aspects, how far will De Boer’s men go this summer?