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Sarri backs De Ligt to become 'best defender in the world' at Juventus and praises Ramsey, Rabiot and Demiral

22:01 GMT+3 06/01/2020
Matthijs de Ligt Juventus 2019-20
The young defender has struggled for consistency since his big move to Serie A, but his manager in Turin has no concerns over his development

Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri has total faith in young defender Matthijs de Ligt, saying he “will become the best defender in the world” despite an inconsistent start in Turin.

The 20-year-old joined from Ajax in the summer after starring in the Eredivisie side’s thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals.

De Ligt was on the bench for Juve’s Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired 4-0 win over Cagliari in their first game of 2020, with 13 Serie A appearances under his belt so far this season.

“I am the first to be convinced that he will become the best defender in the world,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

“He had five difficult months playing every three days and having to settle in a new country, a new league with a new language.”

Another man to receive the backing of his manager was Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, also adjusting to his new surroundings after leaving Arsenal in the summer.

Ramsey has been in and out of the Juventus team due to injuries, but played 90 minutes against Cagliari and will be hoping to kick on in the second half of the season.

“He is finding some continuity in training,” Sarri noted.

“After various injuries he is finding good form. He was excellent in the defensive phase of the game. In the offensive phase he can do better, he has the qualities to do it.

“I am happy with his performance and that of the team today.”

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot and defender Merih Demiral have both been linked with moves away from Juventus in the January window, but both played the full game against Cagliari.

Sarri says he is pleased with the progress made by both – and echoed club chief Fabio Paratici in saying Juve’s transfer business for the window is over following the €35 million (£30m/$39m) signing of Dejan Kulusevski from Atalanta.

“Rabiot had a good game, he’s improving,” he added.

“I made it a little difficult for him by making him play on the right but he had a solid game, always in the right position.

“Demiral is now doing very well, he is sweating from every pore with hard work and it is right to take advantage of this.

“I’m glad Paratici has said we’re finished [in the transfer market]. It’s a difficult team to improve, especially in the January window. We’re ok, as he said.”