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Matthijs de Ligt relishing new challenge at Bayern Munich

De Ligt knows he has big expectations to fulfill at Bayern, but he’s looking forward to doing so with flying colors.

RB Leipzig v FC Bayern München - Supercup 2022 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Bayern Munich signed Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus for a transfer fee of €70 million with an additional €10 million in add-ons, but when he was first linked with a move to Munich, it was anticipated that it would take an upfront €80million fee to sign him. Had that been the actual figure, he would’ve become Bayern’s most expensive ever signing, eclipsing Lucas Hernandez’s fee when he was purchased from Atletico Madrid. In the end, Bayern got a bit of an unexpected discount, but it’s still a price tag that merits colossal expectations of the towering center back. In a recent interview with kicker (via @iMiaSanMia on Twitter), De Ligt said he was up for the challenge.

The timeline from initial rumors linking De Ligt with a potential move from Juventus to Bayern moved pretty quickly, and everything seemed to have happened within the span of about two weeks. His tenure at Juventus, compared to his exploits at Ajax, was lackluster and didn’t quite work out exactly how he would’ve wanted. Because of this, he said he was more than ready for a new challenge and it was easy for him to say yes to Bayern when they came knocking at the door. “I still had a two-year contract at Juve, but I had the feeling it was time for a new challenge and a new environment. When Bayern contacted me, I was immediately interested because the style here suits me,” De Ligt explained.

Before making his final decision, De Ligt also said that he consulted both Louis van Gaal and Erik ten Hag, both of whom were previously employed by Bayern and have worked with De Ligt at both Ajax and the Dutch national team. “I spoke with Louis van Gaal and also Erik ten Hag, who knows Bayern well. I already spoke to him about the club a few years ago. He told me that Munich is great,” De Ligt said.

Netherlands Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Rene Nijhuis/BSR Agency/Getty Images

From a defensive standpoint, Bayern’s last two seasons have not been great compared to the past. In the buildup to last season, Bayern lost veterans Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and David Alaba, while they brought in Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig. This all happened a little more than a year after losing Mats Hummels to Borussia Dortmund. Last season, they conceded 37 goals in the Bundesliga, while in Hansi Flick’s last season in charge, they conceded 44. In the prior two seasons, Bayern had only conceded 32. It was clear that Bayern struggled with the loss of veteran players in the back line and their defense was one of their weak points.

In addition to Upamecano growing into his role at Bayern, Nagelsmann has added De Ligt and Noussair Mazraoui to the ranks, providing reinforcements that can help shore up the defense. With his price tag, along with his pedigree, there are massive expectations on De Ligt, even if it takes him some time to fully integrate in into the squad. He came on as a sub in Bayern’s 5-3 DFL-Supercup win at RB Leipzig, but that’s not to say he soon won’t be starting matches. The pressure is something that De Ligt says he’s no too bothered by since he already expects so much of himself. “When you play for a top club like Bayern, you always have pressure. It doesn’t matter whether you come on a free transfer or not. It definitely doesn’t matter to me because I always demand much of myself, that’s enough pressure,” he said.

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