Matthijs de Ligt become the third former Ajax player to join Bayern Munich this summer, following Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui, though he did technically join from Juventus. However, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would suggest De Ligt’s tenure at Juventus was better than his time at Ajax, where he became club captain at just 19 years of age and lead his side to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, which required late heroics from Lucas Moura for Tottenham to edge past them and get to the final, only to lose to Liverpool in Madrid.
For De Ligt, his heart seemed like it was always set on Bayern and he was even signed for a bit less than was initially expected as it seemed that Juventus was going to stand firm with their 80-million euro valuation of the center-back. Linking up with his former Ajax teammates has certainly been an added bonus in helping De Ligt acclimate to life at Bayern, especially having joined up with a fellow Dutch international in Gravenberch.
Despite the pre-existing relationship and Dutch connection between De Ligt and Gravenberch, the latter did admit in a recent kicker interview (via @iMiaSanMia) that his former Ajax teammate did not reach out to ask him about Bayern before finalizing his move.
“Actually, no,” he said when he was asked if there had been any direct outreach. “But it’s cool that he’s also here now. He’s a great player, an absolute rock at the back. He’s a tough defender that will make the team better.
“I’ve known Matthijs for a long time. I’ve looked up to him when he went with Ajax to the Champions League semifinal in 2019, while I was still a youth player.”
With some of his physical attributes combined with his height, there have been some comparisons drawn between Gravenberch and Paul Pogba. The latter’s career at Manchester United had its ups and downs, but for both France and Juventus, and at times, United, Pogba has shown what he’s capable of when he’s on his day.
The Pogba comparison has been with Gravenberch since his Ajax days, but it’s one he’s not hesitant to accept.
“I often heard that before,” he explained. “This comparison was there since I was a youth player at Ajax. It’s difficult for me to say, but we have some similarities: the way he moves on the pitch, his body, he’s also big and has long legs.”