Matthijs de Ligt’s decision to join Juventus ahead of reported interest from the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United could have been inspired by the Italian giants’ Champions League prospects, according to Mario Melchiot.
He was wanted by a string of clubs before deciding to join Serie A champions Juventus in a €75 million (£68m/$82m) transfer on a five-year contract.
Former Netherlands international Melchiot believes that De Ligt settled on Juve because of the respect for defenders in Italian football and his new club’s chances in this season’s Champions League.
"Italian football was always keen on defensive players," Melchiot told Goal. "They respect defenders in Italy. Italian football is back to where it should be. Top stars go there. I feel like Juventus is a big contender to win the Champions League.
"It isn’t as easy as it looks to win eight titles in a row. De Ligt is in a star team. He plays the game like he has been around for years. He has always had that. Man Utd? Maybe it is an unsettled club. They are rebuilding their team.
"Barcelona? They are also going through changes and they are considered not successful when they aren’t in the final of the Champions League. Juventus look close to winning it and they might have the best chance of winning it this season. That was his choice."
Ajax may believe that they still had a successful transfer window despite selling De Ligt to Juventus and Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona for €75m (£65m) as they were predicted to lose more stars, including Hakim Ziyech.
And Melchiot was full of praise for "genius" Ziyech, insisting that he was impressed that the player decided against joining Sevilla having vowed to only leave for one of Europe's superpowers.
"It was a big positive to only lose two players," Melchiot added. "Some of the players I like a lot, like Ziyech extended his deal to stay longer. He said he would only leave the team to go to a top team. He said no to Sevilla, that’s his way of thinking and I like that.
"Ziyech is a great player. He is one of my favourite Ajax players. Technique, character and he is a genius."