The Dutchman was taken aback with the fellow countryman’s choice to complete a move to Italy from Ajax last year.
Matthijs de Ligt’s decision to join Juventus as opposed to a club such as Barcelona or Manchester City took his former youth team coach Ronald de Boer by surprise.
He then became the club’s youngest captain as an 18-year-old and last year played a pivotal part in Ajax’s journey into the semi-finals of their Champions League, before they were finally removed in spectacular style by Tottenham.
An impressive physical specimen but also technically talented for a centre-back, De Ligt appeared to have a litany of clubs vying for his signature this past year, together with Barca — who signed up his Ajax team-mate Frenkie de Jong, apparently the ideal fit.
Manchester City, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain were also linked with De Ligt, but Juve made their movement to inject developing talent into their ageing backline, and De Boer concedes Turin wasn’t the destination that he had in mind for his compatriot.
“Clubs closest to the Ajax system like Man City and Barcelona were interested,” the ex-Ajax midfielder informed Gazzetta dello Sport .
“It would have been easier to accommodate. I thought that he could have made another choice, but I respect the decision very much”
De Ligt hasn’t quite managed to live up to expectations throughout his first full season in Serie A but did start to produce his best form on a consistent basis after the winter break.
Despite making a decision which may have obtained the 20-year-old from his comfort zone, De Boer remains confident he will become an era-defining defender.
“And he had the skills of the great defender. He understood where the threat was coming… I remember him in the under-14 level when he returned in the following year 30 centimetres taller. He’ll be one of the best of this age, sure.”