'I'd rather play with Ziyech than Ronaldo or Messi' – De Ligt focused on Ajax not transfer talk

As he received the Golden Boy award from Tuttosport, the defender brushed off questions over his future

Matthijs de Ligt has downplayed speculation over his future, saying right now he’d prefer to play with Hakim Ziyech at Ajax than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. 

The 19-year-old defender was in Turin on Monday to receive the Golden Boy award, handed out by Tuttosport for the most promising player under the age of 21 in Europe.

His performances with Ajax have seen De Ligt earn a place on the Netherlands national team as well as links with some of Europe’s big sides.

Juventus and Barcelona have been among those reported to be interested in the teenager but when asked who he preferred to play with, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, De Ligt instead told Sky Sport Italia: “I’d prefer to play with Ziyech at Ajax.”

Though De Ligt put all talk of his future until the end of the season, questions continued for the teenager over his future and whether he would be interested in a move to the reigning Serie A champions.

However, De Ligt, while complimenting Italy, downplayed his current interest in leaving the Dutch giants.

“Juventus? I don’t think about market right now,” De Ligt said. “Italy is a wonderful country to play football, but at the moment I am fully focused on the present.

“I’m not thinking about the possibility to leave Ajax and I’m not thinking about in which league I can play in the future.”

Part of De Ligt’s focus is no doubt on the Eredivisie, where Ajax trail current champions PSV by just two points in the table.

However, unlike their league rivals, Ajax advanced out of the group stage in the Champions League and will now face reigning European champions Real Madrid in the round of 16.

And De Ligt views it as a wonderful opportunity for he and his Ajax team-mates to show their quality by ending Madrid’s hopes of a fourth straight continental crown.

“It will be a very difficult match against the best team in the world, but we are confident,” De Ligt said. “We can beat Real Madrid showing our qualities to the whole world.”

In winning the Golden Boy, De Ligt managed to become the first defender to take home the award – an honor he cherishes.

“It’s a great goal for a defender to win this prestigious award, I am happy to be the first in my role to win this trophy,” he added.

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