Matthijs de Ligt is ranked 5th
“Hello as a little boy, #GoldenBye as a captain.”
After a stellar 2018/19 campaign, Ajax parted ways with Matthijs de Ligt in the summer, with the player eventually securing a move to Juventus after much speculation.
The baby-faced teenager became the youngest ever player to start a major European final when he was selected in the starting lineup to take on Manchester United in the Europa League final in 2017, aged just 17 years and 285 days.
De Ligt went on to win the Golden Boy award in December 2018, becoming the first defender to win the award. In 2018/19, the centre-back helped guide his side to a domestic double, while they also famously reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
It’s been a sensational year for De Ligt, so here’s a rundown of his best moments of 2019.
Scoring the Winner Against His Future Club in Champions League (16/04/19)
Before securing his move to Juventus in the summer, De Ligt took his high-flying, free-flowing Ajax side to Turin for the second leg of their quarter final tussle last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo put the Bianconeri ahead on the night after 28 minutes and it appeared as though the hosts would be the ones heading for the semi-finals of the competition. However, this Ajax side never knew when to quit.
Six minutes later, Donny van de Beek equalised to level the tie up. And the comeback was complete when De Ligt powered home a header with 23 minutes remaining. The difference maker on that occasion.
Of course, they went on to lose to Tottenham in the semi-final in a cruel way, but it was an astonishing run up to that point, which also saw them eliminate Real Madrid along the way.
Guiding Ajax to Domestic Double (15/05/19)
Ajax capped a memorable season with their first league title since the 2013/14 campaign. Erik ten Hag’s men overcame
Reaching Nations League Final (09/06/19)
The Netherlands looked bright in Euro 2020 qualifying and comfortably booked their place in next summer’s championships.
However, they were equally impressive in the inaugural Nations League. The Dutch overcame England 3-1 after extra time to set up a final with hosts Portugal. With his nation in need of a goal, De Ligt powered home a header with 17 minutes remaining to make it 1-1.
It was a pivotal moment in the game, with the Netherlands going on to win in extra time.
Dominant Display Against Atletico Madrid (26/11/19)
De Ligt endured a tough start to life in Turin.
He was often overlooked in the early parts of the season, with the player himself admitting that he was surprised he was an unused substitute in the team’s Serie A opener against Parma. Following the long-term injury suffered by Giorgio Chiellini, however, the centre-back was given his opportunity to prove his worth. This did not quite happen straight away.
However, he has now gone on to play the full 90 minutes in 12 of Juventus’ 17 league games this season and is now showing why the Bianconeri forked out a hefty sum on him.
He also played the full 90 minutes in four of his side’s Champions League group stage games, with the player injured for the other two. It was on matchday five that De Ligt grabbed the headlines for his heroics, putting in a world-class display to ensure his side picked up all three points.
Juve went 1-0 up against Atletico Madrid through Paulo Dybala, but the La Liga outfit were pressing for an equaliser. With seven minutes remaining, Joao Felix played a delightful ball through to Angel Correa, who only had the goalkeeper to beat. Spotting the danger, De Ligt showed astonishing acceleration to turn and throw himself at the ball, blocking the shot.
In typical De Ligt fashion, instead of celebrating, he screamed at his team-mates to prepare for the corner.
Winning the Kopa Trophy (02/12/19)
Lionel Messi may have grabbed the headlines for winning a record sixth Ballon d’Or in December, but De Ligt came away with the Kopa Trophy as a result of his stellar displays.
The Kopa trophy is awarded to the best player in the world under the age of 21. The defender inherited the award from Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe, while he also saw off competition from the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kai Havertz and Joao Felix.
Tough competition, but it was fully deserved. It was the perfect way to cap off what has been a sensational year for De Ligt.
Overall, he went on to finish 15th in the overall Ballon d’Or standings. At just 20, he has a very bright career ahead of him.