Matthijs de Ligt joined the Ajax academy at the age of nine. He made his senior debut at 16 in a 5-0 victory over Willem II, in which he became the club’s second youngest goalscorer, after Clarence Seedorf. The central defender swiftly established himself in the first team, demonstrating the abilities that contributed to him becoming the youngest ever player to feature in a major European final when Ajax lost in the 2017 Europa League to Manchester United.
That season De Ligt also made his Netherlands debut, at 17 becoming the youngest to start for them since 1931, and has since developed a fine central defensive partnership with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk. Showing both a maturity beyond his years and outstanding leadership qualities, De Ligt became Ajax’s youngest captain in March 2018, furthering a reputation that looks set to be enhanced still more after signing for Serie A champions Juventus.