When the news broke that Bayern Munich was going to sign Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, I was in Disney World.
Yup, in the midst of one of the craziest transfer periods in years, I was mingling with The Mouse.
Maybe in retrospect that should have been an omen.
Upon my return home, I hit BFW and our podcast proclaiming what a bold, forward-thinking, and improbable move this was. How in the world was Bayern Munich going to get one of the most physically-gifted, talented, young center-backs in the world...seemingly out of nowhere?
Needless to say, I was beyond psyched about the move and was sure that he was going to be a foundational piece of the club moving forward.
Maybe it was too good to be true.
De Ligt has a lofty reputation, but his performances have not lived up to his billing. Shaky at times for Bayern Munich, De Ligt has been “good” for Bayern Munich, but admittedly, he does not look like he is ready to leap into the discussion for being a top five center-back in the world like it appeared he might be.
The Dutchman needed time to regain his fitness, which was odd, but his penchant for risk-taking deep in his own end might even be more concerning. Moreover, the defender was benched for the Netherlands at the World Cup (major warning sign regardless of what formation the team ran), which continued to have doubt seep in to the minds of many.
To some, De Ligt might only be the third or — gasp — fourth best center-back on the Bayern Munich roster at this point.
Now, Lucas Hernandez is out for the season and Benjamin Pavard has openly flirted with leaving the club. When looking at who will anchor the backline, manager Julian Nagelsmann needs to focus in on Dayot Upamecano (another player who has been great for the most part, but who has also been prone to bouts with game-changing mistakes) and De Ligt. Will the Dutchman seize the opportunity to show his worth?
I hope so.
In the end, De Ligt might still be able to reach that vaunted potential bestowed upon him — I sincerely hope that he does — but there have been enough red flags to at least make some fans (including me) have doubt that he will get there.