De Ligt 'always wanted to be Cristiano Ronaldo' as he closes in on 70m Juventus move
Matthijs de Ligt dreamed of being Cristiano Ronaldo when playing football as a child and now looks set to become the Portuguese's team-mate at Juventus.
The 19-year-old centre-back is close to moving to Turin on a five-year deal for €70 million (£63m/$80m), as confirmed by Goal, following months of speculation about his future.
De Ligt has been linked with a number of top European clubs after his mature performances as Ajax captain in the Champions League last term, with Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United among those to have expressed an interest.
But the Netherlands defender appears most likely to complete a switch to Serie A, where he will link up with his boyhood hero.
Speaking to Dutch magazine VI in May, De Ligt said of his transfer situation: "It all went quickly, I realise that sometimes. During the season, at the club and during competitions, you don't really have the time to review everything as a player.
"But sometimes there are times when I realise that it is not normal. Like recently, when I had dinner with some childhood friends.
"We came to the conclusion that I always wanted to be Cristiano Ronaldo when we were playing football in the garden. That was especially in his time when he played at Manchester United.
"My first football shirt also belonged to him from that time. That dinner was just after the meetings with Juventus, in which I had to fight duels with the same Ronaldo."
The former Real Madrid forward scored twice across two legs as Juventus were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Ajax in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Ajax were eventually knocked out by Tottenham at the semi-final stage after conceding a heartbreaking last-minute goal to miss out on a place in the final in Madrid.
De Ligt went on to face Ronaldo again in the final of the Nations League but the Portugal captain came out on top that time around as the European champions wrapped up a 1-0 win.
And the teenager could now be paid €12 million a season to turn out alongside his idol.