Edwin van der Sar says there are comparisons to be made between Matthijs de Ligt and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Van der Sar is probably one of the few people to know and has witnessed the capabilities of both players up close.
Ronaldo was his teammate at Manchester United.
Before one moved to Real Madrid, and the other retired from football, they graced the field together and lifted several major trophies.
De Ligt was part of a very successful Ajax team and came through the ranks of the famous academy at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Van der Sar is the CEO of Ajax and has been a key figure in overseeing the development of key young players.
The retired Dutch goalkeeper is not naive enough to even think about genius, or skill, goal-scoring or anything like that.
When he considers this comparison, he thinks about more about what makes a player tick, what makes them special. But its more than ability, more than just football.
His comparison is the mentality that the young Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt has compared to that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
While there is no denying the talent that De Ligt has, he has a long way to go to reach the realms of Ronaldo.
But to be the very best, and put in the kind of performances that made De Ligt so sought after this summer, there has to be something.
He eventually made the big-money move to Juventus, in the side that contains CR7.
Granted he struggled a little at first, but has been given an opportunity, and grown as a player and risen to the challenge.
Speaking to ESPN, Van der Sar thinks the mentality the player has shown at such a young age, is comparable to the Ronaldo who made similar choices at a similar age.
“He had been all his life at Ajax. So to step away, move with your girlfriend and the family to a different city, a different language.”
“His mentality and the way he wants to improve… he wants to be the best defender in the world. And I’ve seen that with a few players.”
“One of them is playing in the same team, Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Van der Sar recalls what he saw in a young Ronaldo.
“When I played at Man United with him, he had the same desire and attitude to work hard, to become better every training.”
“That’s the same mentality and hunger as Matthijs de Ligt.’
While De Ligt is a defender, he will never be the goal-scoring machine that Ronaldo has become.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo is notorious for his work ethic and puts much of what he has achieved down to the work he puts in off the field.
Could Matthijs de Ligt really follow Ronaldo in his footsteps to become “The Best?”