As one watches Matthijs de Ligt strut around the Johan Cruijff Arena, it’s easy to forget that the classy defender is just 18.
"He looks like he’s been doing this for six or seven years," Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar enthuses in an exclusive interview with Goal. "Matthijs is very mature for his age: he has the physique of a 24-year-old.
"He is also strong with both feet, has an extremely good range of passing, can head the ball, scores goals and is a real leader at the back already at the age of 18.
"He came into the first team last year and has never looked back."
Indeed, despite his tender age, the 1.88m tall centre-back is already a first-team regular, a Europa League runner-up and a Netherlands international. It is hardly surprising, then, that De Ligt is one of Europe’s most coveted players.
While an Ajax attack consisting of Justin Kluivert, David Neres and Hakim Ziyech deservedly demands most of the media attention in Amsterdam, De Ligt’s class, imposing frame and tendency to rush into the action make him just as compelling a figure.