Wednesday February 24 2021
De Ligt: 'Learned from Bonucci, Chiellini, Pirlo'

Matthijs de Ligt reveals how he has grown as a defender at Juventus, learning from Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and why he used to idolise Andrea Pirlo.

The former Ajax defender sat down with Sky Sport Italia to discuss his Bianconeri career so far and working with coach Pirlo.

“Up until the age of 14 at Ajax, I played as a deep-lying midfielder and had two models to follow: Sergio Busquets and Andrea Pirlo,” smiled De Ligt.

“I watched so many Pirlo videos and really liked him as a player. He was a great example for me to follow.”

Now he is also working with other defenders he watched while growing up and learning the tricks of the trade.

“Bonucci is such a strong defender, he has this great vision and is very good on the ball. He can make both long and short passes accurately, and that is important for me, because I know that I have a lot to learn in that respect.

“Chiellini’s man-marking in the box is incredible, I’ve never seen anyone like him. I often tell him it looks like he has a magnet in his head, he’s always in the right position. He really is incredible.

“I think that I am in good shape physically, I feel stronger and quicker, while I also learned a huge amount tactically since coming to Italy. At Ajax, we did a lot of man-marking, whereas in Serie A it’s more zonal. Having experience of both systems therefore makes me a better player.”

Juventus are playing catch-up on Inter and Milan in the Scudetto race.

“It’s difficult for all teams this season. We are strong, but so are Inter, Atalanta, Lazio, Roma and Milan,” continued De Ligt.

“It’s a great season for the fans, because there are so many teams bunched up in a few points. Juve always start as Serie A favourites, but this year there’s a lot more competition.

“We dropped points at the start of the season against smaller clubs, but I think that was also because we were getting accustomed to Pirlo’s football.”