Reports: Matthijs de Ligt closes in on imminent Juventus move
According to multiple reports all across Europe, the highly contested, highly public, and at times highly awkward Matthijs de Ligt saga is coming to an imminent close.
Dutch publication De Telegraaf reported early on Thursday that the 19-year-old defender and his agents are nearing a conclusion with the Serie A giants, with a fee finally decided upon. The report states that the breakthrough came when Juventus decided to fork over $84 million, which equals the fee that Barcelona had offered to Ajax before talks with the Spanish side broke down nearly a month ago.
In fact, talks are nearing a conclusion quickly enough that De Ligt could reportedly be unveiled as a Juventus player as early as Saturday, which the Italian side is aiming for. That would likely give him time to join the first-team squad in Singapore where they are preparing to play in the International Champions Cup, with their first match scheduled for July 21.
Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio reports that De Ligt has already agreed to terms with Juventus, speeding up the move even further. His contract is five years in length, and will pay him $13.5 million per season. That is significantly lower than the $17 million per season reported by Di Marzio back in mid-June when Juventus was first rumored to be entering the mix. It is possible the club decided to decrease its salary offer in exchange for some image rights, but that has not been mentioned in any reports to this point. The inflated contract offer reported by Di Marzio initially would have made De Ligt the second-highest paid player at the club behind Cristiano Ronaldo, which could have potentially unsettled the squad.
Juventus is a fabulous landing spot for the Dutch teen who has looked unbeatable for much of the last two years, but also at times is mistake-prone. He can fight for first-team minutes while also learning from some legends of the game nearing the end of their careers such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Gianluigi Buffon has also returned to the club and could be a positive influence on De Ligt as he grows towards the prime of his career.
De Ligt has reported to preseason training with the Ajax squad as his transfer talks dragged on, proving awkward for just about everyone involved.
Should the move eventually be completed this summer, the Juventus defense would be absolutely bursting at the seams, and De Ligt will need to work hard to find time on the field. The squad is coming off a season where they conceded a measly 30 goals in 38 matches en route to its 8th straight Scudetto, and adding De Ligt to a back line that already includes Chiellini, Bonucci, Daniele Rugani, and 21-year-old Turkish international Merih Demiral all centrally positioned would be monstrous. Add in Alex Sandro, Joao Cancelo, Mattia de Sciglio, and a new arrival in 20-year-old Italian youth international Luca Pellegrini all on the flank, and the Juventus defense looks primed to not just blitz through the Italian top flight yet again, but challenge for the Champions League crown.