Former Ajax star John van Loen has urged Matthijs de Ligt to reject Juventus in favour of Manchester United.

De Ligt has garnered a reputation as one of the most talented ball-playing defenders in Europe since making his Ajax debut in 2016, helping the club reach the 2017 Europa League final.

Do Man Utd need De Ligt? Five key things to know…

  1. Matthijs de Ligt won the 2018 Golden Boy award and has made almost 100 senior appearances for Ajax since making his debut in 2016.
  2. Still only 19, he has garnered a reputation as one of the most exciting defenders in Europe right now.
  3. United have constantly rotated their centre-backs this season, struggling to find a balance between the likes of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof.
  4. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has continued to rotate his defensive options since taking over as caretaker manager.
  5. Man Utd have conceded more goals (32) than any other top-six Premier League side so far.

The 19-year-old’s form has seen him win 13 caps for the Netherlands already, with a host of European giants now lining up for his signature.

Juventus are one of the biggest names being talked up, but Van Loen, who won the 1992 Uefa Cup with Ajax, believes De Ligt would be far more suited to the ‘stronger’ Premier League and sees Manchester United as a ‘perfect’ destination.

“I think Manchester United is perfect for De Ligt,” he told Goal. “I hope De Ligt rejects Juventus’ offer – Italian football does not suit him and the Premier League is much better and stronger.”

Van Loen also backed De Ligt’s Ajax teammate, Frenkie de Jong, to make a move to Barcelona, with his ability on the ball well-suited to the Catalan club’s ethos.

He added: “Barcelona is the best place for De Jong because they play football, not kick and rush, and he is good with the ball.”

Can Ajax topple Champions League giants Real Madrid? 

Ajax went unbeaten in the Champions League group stage to reach the knockout rounds of the competition for the first time since 2006 – quite an achievement in a group containing Bayern Munich, Benfica and AEK Athens.

The Dutch giants have been handed the unenviable task of taking on Real Madrid in the round-of-16, although Van Loen has backed Ajax to topple the side that has won the Champions League in four out of the last five seasons.

“I think Ajax will beat Real Madrid in the last-16,” he said. “I know Real Madrid’s players have the experience but I see them every week and they won the Club World Cup against normal teams, not good teams, and Ajax play better.”

The former Dutch international also thinks Liverpool will go one better than their runner-up spot last season by lifting this season’s Champions League trophy.

He added: “I think Liverpool will win the Champions League this season. Barcelona and Juventus are not good in the knock-out stages and I do not think they will make it.

“Barcelona and Juventus have special players like [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Liverpool have Mohamed Salah and he is good because he has players behind him that do the dirty work for him.”

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