It was one step forward and several steps back for Matthijs de Ligt in Bayern Munich’s 7-0 Bundesliga win over VfL Bochum at the end of September. It was the Dutch international’s first start of the season under Thomas Tuchel and he scored Bayern’s third of seven goals, but had to come off injured at the halftime interval due to a knee problem. Since sustaining the injury, which MRI scans revealed was nothing too serious, De Ligt missed out on Bayern’s 4-0 DFB-Pokal win over SC Preußen Münster and the 2-2 draw vs. RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.
For De Ligt, the injury came at an increasingly unfortunate time, midway through his first start of the season since Tuchel has been showing a preference to starting the center-back pairing of Dayot Upamecano and Kim Min-jae. Prior to the Bochum match, De Ligt had only made four substitute appearances in addition to starting and playing the first half of Bayern’s DFL-Supercup loss to Leipzig back in August. He was just starting to get one foot back in the door of fighting for a starting spot back after being a regular feature for Tuchel most of last season, but the injury has set him back.
Thankfully, Bayern sporting director Christoph Freund recently said that, despite De Ligt still having a great deal of pain in his affected knee, he “hopefully” won’t be out for “too long,” as per kicker (via @iMiaSanMia).
“The pain is still quite severe, he can’t bend his knee very well yet. We hope he’ll be able to run again soon, but it might take a while,” Freund added. There is certainly a specific discourse that needs to occur with any type of knee injury given how dangerous it can be to start coming back prematurely, but it is still a blow nonetheless for De Ligt and Tuchel’s defensive depth.
The recent links of Bayern trying to sign former defender Jerome Boateng seem to shed a light of where Tuchel stands in terms of his worry with how long De Ligt could be out for. He will want to have more than just two fully fit center backs in the coming weeks and months as the club continues to push across three fronts.