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De Ligt denies Ronaldo influenced €75m Juventus move

09:53 BST 19/07/2019
Cristiano Ronaldo Matthijs de Ligt GFX
The Dutch defender has completed a big-money switch to the Serie A champions, but insists a Portuguese superstar played no part in his decision

Matthijs de Ligt insists his €75 million (£68m/$84m) move to Juventus was driven by personal ambition, with Cristiano Ronaldo having no influence on his decision to head for Italy.

After seeing his future become the subject of much speculation over recent months, the Netherlands international has finally brought a long-running saga to a close.

The reigning Serie A champions have won the race for his signature, with a highly-rated 19-year-old opting to take on a new challenge in Turin after heading for the exits at Ajax.

Barcelona and Manchester United were among those said to be providing competition to the Bianconeri in a protracted transfer chase, but they were ultimately left empty-handed.

It had been suggested that a chat with Portuguese superstar Ronaldo after the UEFA Nations League final in June helped to sway De Ligt’s thinking, but he insists that is not the case.

“After the Nations League final I was already sure that I wanted to join Juventus, but it was still a big compliment to have Cristiano ask me to join here but it didn't make the difference,” De Ligt told reporters at his first press conference as a Juve player.

“I came here because Italy is one of the most traditional countries for defenders. Juventus is a great forwards step for me.

“I spoke to [Maurizio] Sarri on the phone before coming just to get to know each other. He was one of the reasons that I wanted to join here, I've heard a lot of good things about him and I like his footballing philosophy and how he prepares his defence.

“The photo of me in a Juventus shirt was taken when I was about six or seven, at that time Fabio Cannavaro was a defender that I admired. I always had a good feeling about Juventus and I've always been a fan.”

De Ligt is convinced that he has made the right call at this stage of his career, with there a desire on his part to improve his own game in Italy while adding to his collection of major honours.

He said of his ambition: “There are four competitions and we want to win them all. This is the mentality of Juventus.

“It's a big step, my first outside of my home country. I was really honoured with how the Juventus fans welcomed me and I hope that I can give a lot back.

“I'm still young but I feel like I've got a lot of experience for a 19-year-old, that's why I made this move to gain more experience and to learn from the players here.

“I'm 19, I can still improve and I want to do that. It's important to work hard every day and to learn and I hope to become a better player.”

De Ligt will be taking the No. 4 shirt at Juventus and is determined to prove himself worthy of it.

He added: “The number four for me has always been special, I wore it since the youth teams of Ajax. It has an important legacy here too at Juventus, so I hope to live up to this number.”