When Matthijs de Ligt left Juventus, the breakup was rather painless. Bayern Munich made an offer, Juve accepted, and Chelsea were left looking stupid (as usual). The whole affair was wrapped up in a matter of weeks, which is frighteningly quick for a transfer of this magnitude.
Of course you can’t have an FCB transfer without some drama (it’s in the FIFA bylaws somewhere) so, shortly after his move became final, De Ligt stirred the pot by explaining his reasons for leaving Juventus. His specific quotes about the playstyle rankled a significant chunk of the Juventus fanbase, as can be seen in the looooooong chain of quote tweets sparked by this @iMiaSanMia thread:
de Ligt: "I joined Juventus with the idea of playing a bit more attacking football because Sarri was the coach and he played amazing football in Napoli and Chelsea. I expected to have the Ajax style there. But unfortunately he left after one year"— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) July 28, 2022
So in an interview with Telegraaf, the Dutchman decided to set the record straight. It’s always a good idea to do an interview in your native language in order to minimize the chances of something being lost in translation. However, the player’s statements are unlikely to soothe any fans of his former team, as he basically just said the same thing and also admitted that Juventus was always intended as a stepping stone. Ouch.
Don’t believe me? Don’t think it’s that bad? Read it for yourself.
M. de Ligt: "I feel very comfortable with the training of Nagelsmann, because it's all exercises with the ball, where you have to think. I had a great time at Juve, one of the biggest clubs - I don't mean it negatively, but a very different football is played there" [@telegraaf] pic.twitter.com/NiXV2rurkJ— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) August 13, 2022
When you START an interview by saying “I don’t mean it in a negative way”, then you know what you’re saying will be interpreted negatively. Despite this, De Ligt continued to elaborate, trying to remain as neutral as possible. From a certain point of view, he did succeed.
“At Bayern it’s very physical and intensive because of the pressure and constant pushing,” said the defender. “In Italy it’s more like a game of chess, it’s much more tactical. I’m very happy I was able to experience that (at Juve) and play that way, because I learned a lot from it.”
“The reason I went to Juventus was to become a better defender, even though there were differences with the Dutch national team. At Juventus I often had to stay in my position. At Bayern, I want to get my Ajax game back again.”
“Nagelsmann’s playing style is much closer to what Louis van Gaal asks of his defenders: defending high, applying high pressure, connecting well and playing forward a lot. I think it’s a move that can be good for the Dutch national team and my chances there.”
The defender added that he didn’t ask LvG on advice for his move, but the former Bayern coach still recommended it. Finally, he addressed an accusation by former teammate Leonardo Bonucci that he had been disrespectful to the club.
“I said in June that — as the club itself thinks — finishing 4th twice in a row with Juventus is not good enough. That was not an attack on Juventus. Not at all, because I will always have the utmost respect for this club.”
“For me it was just a fact that no one could be satisfied, that the bar had to be raised, including myself. Maybe it was taken out of context or came across incorrectly. I will never forget how my ex teammates helped me in my development as a footballer and as a person.”
You have to wonder if his ex-teammates will buy that explanation. Either this closes the book on MDL’s tenure at Juventus, or we’ll have to revisit this again someday down the line. In the meantime, De Ligt should work on getting into Nagelsmann’s starting XI. For someone who talks so highly about the way football is played in Germany, he hasn’t exactly experienced much of it so far.