Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt has dismissed reports that he is overweight and being made to follow a strict diet to try and get back into shape.
The youngster, who gave away a penalty in Sunday's 2-1 win over Inter, has faced criticism from some fans for his occasional mistakes. There have been rumours that those errors were because of De Ligt's weight, with manager Maurizio Sarri even speculated to have put him on a strict diet to help manage the alleged problem.
"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."
He called on fans to give him time to learn and improve, before opening up on what he has learned during his first few months in Italy.
"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," he revealed.
"After that game against Atlético Madrid 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.”