Koeman admits surprise over Matthijs de Ligt’s bench role for Juventus

Netherlands manager Ronaldo Koeman has acknowledged that he has been surprised with Matthijs de Ligt left on the bench during Juventus’ season opener against Parma on the road. The Dutchman became the club’s marquee signing after making the switch from Ajax this summer but that has not necessarily assured him with a starting role ahead of senior central defensive duo of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

Speaking in a press conference, Koeman admitted that he was surprised with De Ligt not featuring in the curtain raiser at Parma. He added that De Ligt’s place with the national team is safe for the forthcoming set of internationals, but he can’t assure the same in October, should he continue to be starved of playing time at the Bianconeri.

He said: “Whether it surprised me? Yes, on the one hand. You assume he will play. He made a transfer for a lot of money, but if you have Chiellini and Bonucci, the trainer may make a different choice. Not yet, but if this is still the case in October, you will start thinking about the fact that he has no competition rhythm.”

Juventus are widely regarded as the favourites to secure the Serie A crown for the ninth-straight season but they can expect competition from Napoli and Inter Milan, who have bolstered their respective squads during the summer. Elsewhere, the Turin giants will be hoping to offer a better challenge for the Champions League after being ousted at the quarter-final stage last time around.

De Ligt played a huge role for Ajax during the European meeting against Juventus last season and the Bianconeri faithful should be pleased with the Dutchman making the move to Turin. So far, it has come as a surprise with De Ligt left on the bench and it remains to be seen whether manager Maurizio Sarri plans to work with a three-man central defence or drop one of Bonucci or Chiellini from the starting XI. Sarri is currently in the treatment room with pneumonia.

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