'It really is a wild story' - De Ligt dismisses rumours of special diet

The Dutch defender laughed off rumours that Maurizio Sarri has requested a change in his eating habits

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt laughed off rumours of being put on a low-carbohydrate diet at the request of head coach Maurizio Sarri.

De Ligt has endured a tricky start to life at Serie A champions Juve since his arrival from Eredivisie holders Ajax in the off-season.

The 20-year-old has shown signs of improvement in Turin, where the Netherlands centre-back has started to form a promising partnership with veteran Leonardo Bonucci following Giorgio Chiellini's serious knee injury.

De Ligt was asked about speculation that Sarri put him on a special diet amid fears over his weight and he told Nu.nl: "It really is a wild story.

"It doesn't surprise me anymore. Sometimes I think I had a decent game, but apparently there's something wrong after all. But those are only opinions. It's important to know what I do well and what went wrong – and I know that well.

"Every new player should get the time to adapt to the team. Juventus had two great defenders already with Chiellini and Bonucci. The plan was to let me enter the team slowly, but it worked out differently. Obviously it's great that I get to play already, but you get thrown in at the deep end right away. That's a great challenge for me.

"The most important lesson I have learned so far at Juventus is that you need self-confidence. In the beginning, I noticed I was way too concerned about not making mistakes and that's exactly what you shouldn't do. I never played that way and in my first weeks I was too focused on that.

"After that game against Atletico Madrid [in the Champions League] I called myself to order, in a way. I wanted to play with confidence again. Maybe still some things will go wrong, but at least I know for sure things are better than before. Since then I have an upward trend.

"The critiques you get after the game are part of the deal. Unfortunately that's the life of a defender. You're balancing on such a thin line of playing good or bad. Of course I'd rather not give away a penalty kick, but in the end we won [against Inter] and that's what matters."

De Ligt and the Netherlands are set to face Northern and Belarus this international break in Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Juventus, fresh off a win over Inter, sit atop Serie A and return to domestic play against Bologna before facing Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League.