Daley Blind was a surprise add to Bayern Munich’s winter transfer window business after terminating his contract at AFC Ajax. The versatile Dutchman arrives as defensive reinforcement in the wake of Lucas Hernández’s devastating ACL tear while on duty for France at the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
Hernández was the starting left-sided center-back for the Bavarians, and also the second option to cover at left-back for Alphonso Davies. Can Blind fill both roles? In an interview provided to BFW courtesy of Bundesliga.com, Blind went deep on all the places where he can provide depth for the German Rekordmeister.
“I get this question so often… I don’t know,” he said when asked about his top-choice position. “I think I prefer to play in the center of the pitch. You have more options. But the last years I played only on the left side, and for me that’s also fine. I can adapt quick to different positions. I think that’s sometimes really a strong point of a player. Sometimes it can maybe be a discussion point, but I always see it as a strength that I can adapt in different ways. For me, it doesn’t matter. Just where the manager needs me, I’m able to play.”
It’s interesting on a few levels! First that Blind may be another one of Bayern’s full-backs who prefers center-back. But also that his versatility might extend beyond the two favored positions of Hernández.
Bayern do have need for cover elsewhere, too. Right-back Noussair Mazraoui is facing an spell on the sidelines of indeterminate length after a bout with COVID-19 at the World Cup. And last season, Joshua Kimmich’s absence exposed Bayern’s lack of cover in defensive midfield — one which, in a pinch, the technically proficient Blind might provide. Per the interview, Blind was “third in the Dutch Eredivisie for completed through balls (44.4%), fourth for completed passes into the final third (88.5%), first for progressive passes per 90 minutes (23.1) and second for completion rate in that category (90.6%)” — he’s very much in the profile of a defender who can be heavily involved in build-up. That will suit the Bavarians nicely.
“I didn’t know [the statistics] so exact, but of course you know your strengths,” Blind said. “I think I’m a ball-possession player or defender, which I think I have my positive sides and my downsides. But I think on the ball, that’s my strength. I think in a team at Ajax and also like Bayern, who has a lot of possession, I can be important. I can play my game and try to find the players up front on the pitch and hope they can excel the game to a chance or anything. I’m not trying to give the assist but a lot of times I try to do the pre-assist. I enjoy the ball-possession game. That’s also what I like to be here as well, with the same philosophy as Ajax.”
Indeed, Blind was something of a Football Manager meme back in the day for being able to play almost every position outside of attack.
Time will tell how much — and where — Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann will see fit to deploy his newest outfield asset. Until then, Bayern fans can rest content knowing that they’ve bolstered their cover at a number of positions with another complete footballer from AFC Ajax.