Ajax’s 19-year-old center back Matthijs de Ligt has been linked to Bayern Munich on numerous occasions over the past year. The Dutch international has drawn rave reviews from scouts and pundits alike in that time and has peaked the interest of clubs such as Manchester City, Juventus, and FC Barcelona, in addition to the Bavarians.
In an interview with Catalunya Radio (as captured by Goal), Netherlands national team coach Ronald Koeman pulled no punches in assessing where his country’s cornerstone center back rates in today’s game among the rising stars.
De Ligt and [Frenkie] de Jong are special for various reasons. De Ligt is younger, 19, and plays in an important position, as a centre-back. He’s the Ajax captain and from their school. That is to say Barca’s school, because it means that he has a lot of technical quality and tactical nous. He will be the best center back in the world in two years.
With so many talented young defenders in Europe, it is certainly lofty praise to put De Ligt at the top of the list. Regardless, Bayern’s interest in De Ligt could be impacted by the club’s reported pursuit of Atletico Madrid’s 22-year old defender Lucas Hernandez.
With VfB Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard (22) already signed on for a summer transfer to Bayern and a center back stable that currently includes Niklas Sule (23), Mats Hummels (30), and Jerome Boateng (30) on the first team, along with U23 prospect Lars Lukas Mai (18) - and potentially FC Dallas product Chris Richard (18) should the club ever formally announce a permanent deal) - Bayern may not want to spend what it will take to land De Ligt. Transfermarkt has De Ligt valued at €65m, but it likely would take at least €10m more to pry him from Ajax this summer.
If Bayern were to continue its pursuit of both Hernandez and De Ligt, it could also signal that either Pavard or Hernandez could be slated to take over a spot at outside back where Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba are currently entrenched. Both Pavard and Hernandez have had World Cup winning success on the outside defensively for France.
Regardless, De Ligt upped his value even more at the end of last year when he claimed the Golden Boy Award, which recognizes the footballer voted as the best young player in Europe for 2018. If you are unfamiliar with De Ligt’s work, you can check this video out for some highlights.