Football

Matthijs de Ligt laughs off Ronaldo's invitation to join Juventus

Fresh from winning the inaugural Nations League with hosts Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo played recruiter after the 1-0 win over Holland at the Estadio do Dragao yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, who is widely expected to leave Ajax Amsterdam, said he was asked about a move to Italian champions Juventus by Ronaldo at the end of the match.

Post-match footage showed Juve forward Ronaldo having a chat with the 19-year-old centre-back after the final whistle, and the highly coveted Dutchman confirmed a possible move to the Italian side had been raised by the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"I didn't understand him at first. I was a little shocked, so I laughed. But I didn't say anything," de Ligt told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"So soon after the game, you are not at all concerned with it.

"You are disappointed that you have lost and that is the only thing you are thinking about."

De Ligt's impressive performances for Ajax in their run to the Champions League semi-finals have made him one of the hottest properties in the transfer window.

But the defender, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester United and Barcelona, said he had yet to make up his mind over his future and was in no hurry to do so.

"I don't mind that. The transfer period starts in a while, so I will first go on a nice vacation and rest. I will let it happen and then I will see," he said.

Meanwhile, Portugal's elder statesman Ronaldo said he had no plans to retire from international football after his second trophy with his country in the last three years.

The 34-year-old told Portuguese TV station RTP: "Portugal have won important things like Euro 2016 and now the Nations League.

"As long as I have the strength and motivation, I will continue to represent the colours of Portugal. When I am with the national team, I feel like at home."

Holland coach Ronald Koeman has overseen a upturn in fortunes for the Oranje, but believes his rebuilt side is not ready to win titles.

The Dutch have struggled in recent years, failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments.

Said Koeman: "We know we made big steps in the past year and that is positive, but to make the next step maybe we need more time...

"Maybe it's too early to win, there are the Euros coming up next year, but I don't want to be too negative."

- REUTERS, AFP

Football