De Ligt surprised by substitute role in Juventus' first Serie A game

Paulo Dybala Matthjs De Ligt Parma JuventusGetty Images

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has confessed to being confused by head coach Maurizio Sarri’s decision to not use him at all in the Bianconeri’s first Serie A game of the season.

The defending Italian champions got off to a winning start in De Ligt’s absence, beating Parma 1-0 thanks to a goal by one of the men Sarri preferred in the back line, Giorgio Chiellini.

De Ligt said he didn’t think he’d be a substitute but knows that displacing a centre-back pairing that he considers one of the best in the world will not be easy.

“Of course, I would have preferred to play,” the ex-Ajax man said after the game.

“I couldn’t read this based on the training sessions, in that sense I didn’t see this coming, but obviously I respect the decision of the coach.

“I’m also realistic, I’m still getting used to being here in Italy. The duo that played today, Chiellini and [Leonardo] Bonucci, were seen as the best defensive pairing in the world.

“It’s not like you’re just going to play instead of them in the opening match. I’ll have to conquer them to earn my place in the team this season.”

De Ligt, bought from the Dutch champions for £78 million ($84m), was not the only new arrival in Turin over the summer, but former Chelsea boss Sarri did not select any of them in the starting XI.

Aaron Ramsey, who joined on a free transfer from Arsenal, is recovering from injury, but is close to being available, and has been picked by Wales manager Ryan Giggs for fixtures against Azerbaijan and Belarus starting on September 6.

Adrien Rabiot, who also arrived on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, did make his Juve debut from the bench, replacing Sami Khedira just after the hour.

Paulo Dybala, the subject of continuing transfer rumours, was named in the matchday squad but did not make it onto the pitch, with Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernadeschi chosen ahead of the Argentina international.

The players who did not make an appearance in the match with Parma will have to wait until Juventus face Napoli on August 31 to potentially make their mark this season.