Leonardo Bonucci has revealed he believes Juventus teammate Matthijs de Ligt can become the world's best defender, following criticism aimed at the young Dutchman.
Much hyped after an incredible 2018/19 season at Ajax, De Ligt has been singled out for a number of mistakes, notably making errors which led to goals against Napoli and, more recently, Lokomotiv Moscow.
Juve eventually rallied to beat Lokomotiv as Paulo Dybala scored twice to ensure remained top of Group D in the Champions League.
Speaking after the game, Bonucci insisted De Ligt needs space, free from criticism, to learn about the game, and claimed the Netherlands international has the potential to become the best defender in the world.
He said, as quoted by Football Italia: “De Ligt’s fate is already decided. He’s struggling like we all did, but he should be left alone. He has the quality to become, if not the best, one of the best defenders in the world.
“He’s made mistakes, like I did in the past and anyone in general: it’s inevitable.
“Wearing this shirt puts pressure on you and he’s doing it at just 20 years old, defending zonally after having spent his entire career marking man-to-man.
“It’s only a matter of time. Even against Lokomotiv Moscow, he had a very good game. He’s only human too. But, with experience, he will become the best defender in the world.”
De Ligt remains one of the most exciting young players in world football, following an extraordinary campaign with Ajax last season. He captained a side packed with talent - including the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech - to the Eredivisie title and the Champions League semi finals.
However, there's no doubt his star has dwindled a tad this season, following a rude awakening to life at one of Europe's true giants in Juventus. It was expected the 20-year-old would be eased into the starting XI, but Giorgio Chiellini's injury ensured he has been given a baptism of fire during his first few months as a Bianconeri player.