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Matthijs De Ligt Is ‘Ahead Of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini And Alessandro Nesta For His Age’

Matthijs De Ligt Is ‘Ahead Of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini And Alessandro Nesta For His Age’

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt is excelling at a higher rate than Alessandro Nesta, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini when they were his age.

That's according to China boss Marcello Lippi, who believes that the 19-year-old Dutch starlet is making serious headway compared to the Italian legends.

"From Nesta to Baresi, from Maldini to [Ciro] Ferrara, from [Fabio] Cannavaro to [Marco] Materazzi, I have seen so many exceptional defenders, but never one like this in relation to age," the 71-year-old Italian told Tuttosport.

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De Ligt is expected to quit Ajax this summer and he has been linked with Juventus, Manchester United and Barcelona.

And the Serie A champions are leading the race to sign the sought-after Dutch talent, with the centre-back reportedly set to sign a five-year deal and pocket €12m (£10.75m) a season.

De Ligt would welcome a move to Turin for the opportunity to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, who was a big influence on him growing up.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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But Lippi isn't alone in his praise for the Juventus and Barcelona target.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola called De Ligt a top defender and said that any club who snapped him up would be getting their money's worth.

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"He's 19 years old, and the one who signs him will have a centre-back for years [to come]," the 48-year-old Spaniard told Marca.

Former England boss Fabio Capello also called the Netherlands international one of the best defenders in the world and said his arrival at Juventus would end a rival team's title-challenging hopes.

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"If Juve sign De Ligt, then it's over. Again. And we go directly to the season after," the 73-year-old Italian said.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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"De Ligt is the best defender out there. He allows you to defend with two, freeing up the full-backs, like he has at Ajax.

"With him, Juve will have hit the jackpot. Without him, well, it could help the others get closer.

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"Let me be clear. When I talk about others, I'm referring exclusively to Napoli and Inter [Milan].

"[AC] Milan, Roma and Lazio won't participate in the title race for obvious technical delays and financial problems."

Agree or disagree with Lippi?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Football News, Paolo Maldini, Matthijs de Ligt, Football, Marco Materazzi, Eredivisie, Ajax, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta

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Adnan Riaz

Adnan Riaz is a journalist for SPORTbible. He studied for a B.A. in History at the University of York and followed it up with an M.A. in Multimedia Journalism at MMU. Before he started writing about sports, he spent over four years in the gaming press. He has worked for several publications, including Hardcore Gamer, LADbible and the Manchester Evening News. Follow him on Twitter to find out what he is working on next. Got a story tip for Adnan? Email him: [email protected]