Sometimes, a tough loss sends — or spurs — a team right back to the drawing board. For Bayern Munich, that certainly appears to have been the case after their 2021 Champions League quarter-finals exit to Villarreal.
Unai Emery’s side may have been experienced in European competition but were outgunned on paper. So it came as a shock when the La Liga side took it to the Bavarians in each of the two legs — and came away with a stunning victory over the German record champions.
What happened next? Apparently, the Bayern bosses got on the phone — to the agent of Matthijs de Ligt. The then-Juventus center-back recounted his transfer saga recently for Voetbal Zone, as captured by @iMiaSanMia.
“Bayern were eliminated in the Champions League by Villarreal and then they contacted my agent,” De Ligt relayed. “They said: ‘We are looking for a defender.’ Then my agent informed me about it and asked if I would like to go to Bayern. I immediately said: ‘If that’s a possibility, then I would really like to go there.’ That was around May or June.
“Bayern normally keep a low profile when doing transfers. Maybe not so with the transfer of Harry Kane, but normally you ‘suddenly’ hear that a player is going to Bayern. That was the case with me too. There weren’t many rumours, and then suddenly it came out that ‘Bayern Munich went for De Ligt.’
“I had a good time at Juventus and was loved there, but when a club like Bayern wants to sign you, there’s always the chance to win the Champions League, to win the league... I didn’t have to think long.”
De Ligt had a roaring introduction to life in Munich as he featured regularly under Julian Nagelsmann. Fast forward to year two, though, and Bayern have another shiny new center-back plucked from Serie A in the wake of another Champions League quarter-finals exit. And current head coach Thomas Tuchel appears to prefer Kim Min-jae.
But as Bayern’s early season injury crisis in defense already shows, there should be plenty of opportunity for all of the team’s top center-back trio — which includes ex-RB Leipzig man Dayot Upamecano — provided any of them can stay healthy.