Juventus is building something of a dynasty in Italy. The much-anticipated capture of Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt completes the edifice. Maurizio Sarri will have himself to blame should the Old Lady collapse in Europe again.
To bulk football lovers, the Italian game is a fallen giant. Serie A is perceived as a fading image of what was once the best league on the planet. No side managed to break Juve’s hegemony on the local front.
The Old Lady comfortably glided towards an eighth successive Scudetto last season. Over 90 points in four successive years. Seemingly unstoppable. That dominance, however, didn’t extend beyond the Roman Empire.
Juve last tasted from the Champions League trophy 23 years. They failed in 18 campaigns and five finals. Even Cristiano Ronaldo’s groundbreaking Serie A invasion last season couldn’t conjure the magic. Maximiliano Allegri paid the ultimate price.
The upcoming campaign, however, appears promising. Sarri obliged to abandon his experiment at Chelsea. Adrien Rabot was led to Turin by Gianluigi Buffon from Paris Saint-Germain. Alongside Aaron Ramsey, Sarri is stock-pilling the most influential squad on the continent.
The imminent arrival of De Ligt is the icing on the cake. The teenager arrived on Tuesday night ahead of his £67.5m move. He also agreed on a reported deal worth £10.4m a season.
Juventus already have two of the finest central defenders in Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Matthijs de Ligt offers a lot more physically than the two Italians. He’s not quite as strong, but he’s much faster and boas better-shooting ability. After all, the pair are way past their prime.
Rugged defensive play and toughness have been two staples of Juve throughout their ongoing reign atop Serie A. De Ligt give the Italians another dynamic, fearless dimension. It’s hard to overstate how impressive the Dutch defender was throughout Ajax’s run to the Champions League semifinals, regardless of his age.
He is an excellent passer of the ball. The defender likes to keep things simple. He’s not averse to hitting the odd ‘Hollywood’ cross-field pass, but only if there’s a purpose to it. Constructive, short, sharp give-and-gos to help get his side up the pitch are far more his style.
He averaged a pass completion rate of more than 90% last season – more than any other defender in Eredivisie. This passing ability makes De Ligt a perfect fit for many of Juve.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby