Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel’s preferred center-back pairing is Kim Min-jae and Dayot Upamecano, which means that Matthijs de Ligt is the odd man out and has rarely played any matches when healthy.
For one reason or another, the 24-year-old Dutchman has not seen the light of the pitch under Tuchel, and he may have a good reason to bench the second most expensive defender in the club’s history.
According to a report from Tz, Tuchel prefers ball-playing defenders in his system or defenders who can ping balls forward. That is exactly what Kim and Upamecano are, whereas De Ligt is a more traditional no-nonsense defender who stays back and picks up the pieces at the back:
The coach wants to see a vertical, quick build-up of play from his central defenders. De Ligt has problems with this. He also often played sideways against Werder and put his teammates under pressure with unfortunate passes. His defense colleagues Dayot Upamecano (25) and Minjae Kim (27), who is currently with South Korea at the Asian Cup in Qatar, implemented Tuchel’s demands better.
But the truth is also: De Ligt has had to struggle with injuries several times in the past few months. During the short training camp he sustained a minor capsule injury in his knee. Now he is fit again. “I’m happy that I feel a little freer on the pitch again. Hopefully with more rhythm I can perform better every time,” said De Ligt, who may face further competition in the summer. Tuchel wants a defense chief.
De Ligt’s fault on his part is that he expected to slide right back into the team (just like Manuel Neuer did when he was making his comeback from injury). The Kim-Upamecano pairing has proved to be solid which meant De Ligt was not needed. That said, selling him would still be a huge mistake given that Bayern said they wouldn’t go for defenders.