Huge expectations of de Ligt: The next mega attempt by FC Bayern

It is the next transfer coup by the uninhibited sports director Hasan Salihamidžić: Bayern's new defense chief Matthijs de Ligt is in Munich.

Huge expectations of de Ligt: The next mega attempt by FC Bayern

It is the next transfer coup by the uninhibited sports director Hasan Salihamidžić: Bayern's new defense chief Matthijs de Ligt is in Munich. For a fee of around 70 million euros, Bayern bring in the next star player after Sadio Mané. But can he shoulder the immense expectations?

Jürgen Klopp has him, Josep Guardiola doesn't have him and Julian Nagelsmann is now hoping to finally have him: the sovereign in defense. For around 80 million euros, FC Bayern Munich will sign a new defense chief in Matthijs de Ligt. And this time it should actually be one. The attempts with record man Lucas Hernández and the massive Dayot Upamecano have, as of now, failed. Hernández is a tough guy, a strong tackler. But is not a leader. Neither does Upamecano. In his first season in Munich he was too flippant, too vulnerable. With all the strong duels that he has also decided for himself.

Now it should judge de Ligt. The third mega attempt to stabilize the defense in the long term after the departure of Jérôme Boateng - wanted by the club - and David Alaba - not wanted by the club. De Ligt should become what his Dutch national team-mate Virgil van Dijk is in a remarkable way at Liverpool FC: an authority, a foundation on which a title-ready team can be built. In principle, the bosses of FC Bayern are certain that they are already playing on Säbener Straße.

All you need is a stable pillar in front of Manuel Neuer. How important such a thing is, the people of Munich experienced too often last season when they were repeatedly run over painfully badly, by the crisis club Borussia Mönchengladbach, for example (0:5 in the second round of the cup), or by the league Dwarf VfL Bochum (2:4 in the Bundesliga).

Star coach Josep Guardiola is a particularly good contact if you want to talk about the desperate search for a leading specialist for the defense headquarters. The Catalan had his Abu Dhabi sheikh boss invest half a billion euros (!) in order to find a suitable sovereign. The sobering result: the longed-for handle pot still makes a wide berth around Manchester City's trophy cabinet.

It is quite a remarkable development that the defensive bosses are now just as popular a transfer object as the great ball magicians. The only difference: the defense bosses are a rarity. You can always find an attacking artist somewhere. They can also tell this story in Munich. While Robert Lewandowski taunted the club with his angry tirades, Sadio Mané came to Bayern and should now shoulder the burden of the attack. You trust him. But the key will be the defensive, will be de Ligt. You know that from the American: "Offense wins games, but defense wins championships." In Bayern's case, this translates to: "The offensive wins games, but the defense wins the Champions League."

The approach didn't work in Munich last season. An expensive pleasure. Failed with a bang. 80 million for Hernández (2019), 42.5 million for Upamecano (2021), 35 million for Benjamin Pavard (2019), who is now to move from the right-back position to the center of defence, and now another around 80 million for the 22 year old de Ligt. Makes almost a quarter billion in expenses. On the other hand, there is a lonely zero income: Alaba went free (he demanded too much salary, his advisor was a greedy piranha, that was the Munich view), as did Boateng. There was nothing for the aging Javi Martinez either. The record champions' central defense is a remarkable money-burning machine.

Now the last major issue is said to have been made for the foreseeable future. Because the bosses on Säbener Straße hope for the future from de Ligt. He should lead and pull his neighbors with him. One of them will probably leave the club. According to media reports, it probably won't be Hernández. His aggressive style of play is greatly appreciated. Pavard helps the club with his flexibility, so there is still Upamecano, who the Munich team appreciates so much because of his outstanding ability, but who was also the most vulnerable man in the back. FC Bayern would certainly make good money for him. There are said to be interested parties in the Premier League. Good for the badly fleeced fixed deposit account and finally an income from the defense.

Quite remarkable for a club like FC Bayern, which lives the dominant offensive football: Five of the ten most expensive additions in the club's history were defenders. In addition to the four listed here, Mats Hummels is one of them. And if you pull the circle a little further, then with Martinez, a former record purchase, and Arturo Vidal, two other defensive players belong to the elite club of the most expensive Munich.

Now the question remains: Can de Ligt lead the defense of Munich? Experts like Lothar Matthäus or Huub Stevens rave and attribute a sensational transfer to FC Bayern. At 19, the Dutchman was already the head of defense at Ajax Amsterdam, then switched to the defensive artists of Juventus Turin. There he learned alongside the gladiatorial duels and positional geniuses Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. But the expected next (big) step did not materialize. This is one of the reasons why Juve released him, although Chiellini, one of the great heroes, migrated to the MLS. But with the "Old Lady" de Ligt was never really happy, Nagelsmann's system should accommodate him. De Ligt can use a back three or four, is strong in one-on-one fights, is considered a good communicator and is familiar with high defending and pressing.

De Ligt is said to have been the coach's dream player. An expensive gift. An expensive vote of confidence from the club in Nagelsmann, which had written a significant increase in the specifications for this season. A sovereign defense is the key. Klopp has him, Pep doesn't, Nagelsmann hopes.

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