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