Bayern Munich’s summer window has been one to remember thus far, with some superb players joining the team in Noussair Mazraoui, Ryan Gravenberch, and Sadio Mane, the latter being the major highlight. However, it does appear that sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic is hungry for more, and might be looking at a certain beefy Dutch center-back to satiate his ginormous appetite. Yes, that’s right. The man has his sights set on Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt.
It’s hard to tell exactly when this love affair might’ve begun, but it has been rumoured that Bayern has always been super interested in acquiring the uber-talented defender, with the desire tracing as far back as 2018 when De Ligt was still an Ajax player. However, Juventus snuck in and snatched him from right under the noses of some major European heavyweights for a massive €75 million fee. Bayern ended up signing Lucas Hernandez in the same window for a club-record €80 million euro fee, and I doubt anybody regrets that transfer.
However, since the signing of a certain Dayot “Supamecano” hasn’t exactly gone superbly, the Bayern brass seems keen on signing an elite center-back with leadership qualities, a great passing range, and some significant experience. Which is where De Ligt comes into the fray. So, what does this transfer offer?
De Ligt is your typical physical center-back. He’s quite tall at 1.89 m, and very imposing. His defensive awareness and strong 1v1 tackling have often drawn praise. He’s very good on the ball, and is quite similar to Boateng in terms of ball progression and long-range passing ability. De Ligt is also very good at switching play from one wing to another during periods of transition, which makes him a valuable part of buildup strategies.
Importantly, De Ligt is right-footed, which means that he wouldn’t be competing with Lucas Hernandez for a starting berth. So Bayern fans’ long-awaited dream of having two of the world’s best center-backs paired for Bayern’s big games will come to fruition. That’s not to say that it’s going to be easy starting over the rest of Bayern’s center-back options (okay maybe it is, if Upa remains as inconsistent as he’s been).
The Dutchman is also very strong in the air, and just like Hernandez, wins a majority of his aerial duels. This would also give Bayern an advantage in set-piece situations, since De Ligt is very Hummels-esque when it comes to heading in corners and free-kicks. It also is looking very likely that we’ll lose Robert Lewandowski this summer, we could use all the aerial help we can get.
If there’s any noteworthy criticism of his playing style, it’s that:
- He marks his man very closely (eerily similar to Upamecano) and prefers to go all in physically, which may put him in a precarious situation with fleet-footed wingers/forwards. He’s not very good at spacing himself well, which is something he might want to improve.
- He’s very prone to handballs (has happened on multiple occasions) and his decision-making inside the penalty area has been somewhat suspect. Again, we simply do not want an Upamecano 2.0 for twice the money, so he’d have to improve on that.
- The man, like Lucas Hernandez, is not afraid of getting carded. However, unlike Hernandez, De Ligt isn’t well versed with the dark arts and is sometimes like a trigger-happy kid, enjoying the different colours of the cards in the ref’s pocket.
If he manages to improve all these attributes of his, however, there’s absolutely no stopping him. I mean, he’s already the best young center-back in Europe for a reason.
Let’s get the elephant out of the room first: CASH. Juventus are currently demanding a fee upwards of €75 million PLUS add-ons, which could take the total to upwards of €90 million, which is just crazy. Yes, Bayern is not exactly afraid to spend big when they deem it fit, as they did for the Lucas Hernandez signing. However, this still feels like a crazy amount of money for a player who has arguably somewhat regressed, however slightly, from his peak Ajax self.
Granted, Brazzo is a master negotiator and could bring that figure down. However, there’s a feeling that the transfer fee shouldn’t exceed €60 million. And it makes sense. The player only has 2 years left in his contract, and that is still a lot of money. Besides, add-ons could take that figure to 70 million. Besides, a huge transfer fee would add even more pressure on the young player.
Second, Bayern already has four center-backs for the same spot (Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard the more experienced options, with Chris Richards and Tanguy Nianzou being the exciting, young talents). I can’t help but feel that Nagelsmann is going to tinker with back 3s a lot. Because if not, Upa is as good as gone, because I sure as hell won’t like a sharp newbie waltzing into my position at work.
And last but by no means least, the man could be quite chonky when we sign him. There have been concerns (mostly just media BS) about him racking up the pounds. Put 2 and 2 together, and you get a Niklas Süle 2.0 saga, which is something we just do not need. Maybe the club should introduce some fast food regulations. I know this isn’t a major concern right now, but could be considered a risk by some (no matter how inane it might seem to many).
Is he the right fit?
Three years ago, this question would’ve been very easy to answer, and that answer would’ve been an easy, massive YES. A player from THAT Ajax side under Erik ten Hag’s brilliant pressing system. A player well versed with the art of the counter-press and high line tactics. A player who would slot right in in a backline that employs a similar system, like that of (you guessed it right!) Bayern Munich.
However, Juventus is the antithesis of Bayern in many ways, and the Serie A is certainly the slowest among Europe’s top six leagues, which could mean that De Ligt might’ve taken a fall with regards to his in-transition quickness, ball progression, and overall pace. Of course, the counterargument could be that the player might also be more well-rounded now since he’s also well versed with the art of the counter (parking the bus, mainly) which could benefit us in cup competitions.
It is common knowledge that the average Serie A player has the mobility of a turtle, which is why Nagelsmann would have his work cut out for him when integrating the player into the first team. De Ligt would have to put in a lot of work to make sure that his style and pace fits right in with the rest of the defense. Bayern is an intense press machine, and De Ligt has the right tools to make it work. He would just have to use them properly.
The Dutchman would fit alongside Hernandez in the heart of the defense, and their qualities would complement their play really well.
I really hate the transfer fee, but aside from that, I would love this transfer. Bayern’s defense would hopefully be sorted for another decade, Hernandez would get his consistent partner at center-back, De Ligt would finally get the move he’s always wanted, and Juventus would bathe in the money they make off this deal. A ”W” for all parties involved.
I believe he would fit really well in Nagelsmann’s system, and his playmaking from deep and defensive awareness, along with the ‘clutch’ gene would make us a fierce competitor in the UCL, if not instant favorites (again). We should also be less prone to boneheaded errors under pressure since De Ligt is a player who thrives in high-pressure situations.
Besides, we probably need to fill that wide, gaping hole that Süle’s departure created with an equally wide player. We need to keep our “lard-arse” quota constant. And De Ligt would feel right at home with Uli’s currywursts.