Bayern Munich should make Matthijs de Ligt transfer a priority

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 8: Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax v Heracles Almelo at the Johan Cruijff Arena on April 8, 2018 in Amsterdam Netherlands (Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 8: Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax v Heracles Almelo at the Johan Cruijff Arena on April 8, 2018 in Amsterdam Netherlands (Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Bayern Munich need to buy into the hype and focus on signing 18-year-old Dutch center-back Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax this summer.

Bayern Munich have been linked with many names in recent weeks and months. Among those most often put forth as a potential transfer target for the Bavarians is 18-year-old Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt.

Despite his young age, the Dutchman has emerged as a key player for both club and country over the course of the past year. He has been particularly impressive for Ajax in the Eredivisie, helping his team to a second-place finish and featuring in all but one of their games along the way.

But his outstanding displays and obvious potential have not gone unnoticed. Bayern Munich are not the only club rumored to be interested in the youngster. Several of Europe’s top clubs are reportedly monitoring de Ligt.

Interest in the player from other clubs will only increase as the summer goes on, though, as he reportedly confirmed his intent to leave Ajax in the summer. However, it is crucial that Bayern focus their attention on de Ligt and win the race for the youngster’s signature.

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A shift in Bayern’s tactical approach

At first glance, it may not seem that central defense is an area of concern for Bayern Munich. The club has two of the world’s absolute best in the position in Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. The duo is bolstered by Niklas Sule, who looks set to eclipse the talent of both within the coming years. Beyond them, Lukas Mai has recently emerged from the academy and shown his promise, while both Javi Martinez and David Alaba are also capable center-backs.

Surely it’d be much more sensible for Bayern to focus their attention on wingers, given the decline of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Robbery has been paramount to Bayern’s success for the past decade; finding their replacement must be Bayern’s biggest transfer priority, right?

Under normal circumstances, yes. Without a change in their heavily winger-reliant tactical approach, Bayern would certainly need to focus their attention on depth in that area. However, reports have surfaced that the club has no intentions of signing another wide offensive player this summer. Instead, rumors are surfacing that Bayern are interested in more centralized players, such as Paulo Dybala.

At first that may seem foolish, but maybe that’s not the case. Maybe impending manager Niko Kovac is planning a tactical revelation of sorts for the club.

The Croatian has most often utilized a three-at-the-back formation — with wing-backs and centralized forwards instead of wingers — at Eintracht Frankfurt. It’s reasonable to assume he’ll stick with a similar formation in Munich. This requires not two, but three center-backs to start each match.

If this is the case, Bayern’s current corps of central defenders won’t cut it. It will be imperative that die Roten add depth in defense over the summer window. Matthijs de Ligt would not only bring that depth but be able to grow and develop through continual playing time alongside two world-class stars.

Injury woes

Although it may not seem that Bayern have a dearth of center-backs, the club is probably worse off than you think. Jerome Boateng is terribly injury prone, and this will only worsen as he heads toward 30 years of age. Mats Hummels, though to a lesser extent, also has a poor track record when it comes to injury.

How many times, in the past several years, have we witnessed Bayern head into the final phase of their season without a completely fit set of defenders?

Matthijs de Ligt would have no worries of receiving first-team minutes in Bavaria, because the likelihood is that at least one of his senior teammates will be injured on any given match day. Just ask Niklas Sule. The German giant has been a mainstay in Bayern’s squad this season. He’s played more minutes than Boateng due to the star’s constant battle with fitness. He was a rock at the back for 156 of Bayern’s 180 minutes against Real Madrid.

Despite his youth and relative lack of experience, Sule has been provided ample opportunity to show what he’s made of thanks to the misfortune of his teammates. Should de Ligt join Bayern, he’d be given the same opportunities, especially if Bayern make the switch to a three-at-the-back formation.

Future preparations

Speaking of Niklas Sule and his youth, de Ligt would represent yet another superb, young talent plying his trade with Germany’s Star of the South.

The Bayern board has recently heavily emphasized the importance of youth development, claiming a shift in the way they’ll approach transfer dealings. Matthijs de Ligt would be the perfect signing to signing to signal their intent to continue with this policy.

De Ligt is young enough to provide sustainability for the future yet experienced enough to already begin his integration into the first team; not too dissimilar to Niklas Sule or Joshua Kimmich when they joined the club.

Next: Paulo Dybala would be a great signing for Bayern Munich

There is the possibility that de Ligt turns out to be more like a Renato Sanches than a Kingsley Coman, but that’s a risk Bayern must be willing to take. The young center-back should be at the top of their transfer list as the summer window rolls around.