Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Matthijs de Ligt from Bayern Munich and reuniting him with his former manager Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.
The United boss is thought to be very keen on the idea of working with De Ligt again after their stint together at Ajax, although any move will of course depend on whether he’s still in the job by the summer, with the Red Devils currently languishing down in seventh place in the table.
It’s possible that the centre-back could become one of his top transfer targets for 2024 as he considers his future in light of limited game time at Bayern, where he’s only started four of the ten Bundesliga games for which he’s been available this season. And now, Ten Hag has received further encouragement from Germany.
De Ligt could receive green light to leave
According to Sky Sports, Man Utd target De Ligt could leave Bayern this year. If the reigning Bundesliga champions receive a “suitable offer”, it’s “likely” that he’ll be allowed to move on, and that means his “chapter” at the club could soon be “history”. Bayern bosses are aware of the player’s current dissatisfaction, and that makes him a “candidate” to move on in the off-season.
Over in Manchester, United are “watching developments closely”, and it’s very much “conceivable” that De Ligt links up with Ten Hag again in the Premier League unless anything major changes between now and the end of the campaign.
United interest in Bayern target Araujo sets up transfer poker
The next question is how much Bayern will demand for De Ligt. It was only 18 months ago that they paid up to £60m to sign him from Juventus, and already there’s talk of a departure. That move ranks as one of the ten biggest defensive transfers in football history, and incidentally, De Ligt also occupies third place after his £77m move from Ten Hag’s Ajax to Juve in 2019.
He’s still relatively young at 24, and his contract runs until 2027, so all these factors point to sizeable demands, possibly comparable to the £57m outlay for Lisandro Martinez in 2022. That’s in addition to the player’s reported £263k-per-week salary, which is thought to be one of the highest at the club.
However, if De Ligt remains outside Thomas Tuchel’s first-choice XI in the coming months and Bayern express an openness to offers, that naturally reduces the strength of the club’s negotiating position because he’d appear a less valuable asset.
One intriguing subplot here is that both United and Bayern have shown an interest in Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo. Tuchel has already added Tottenham’s Eric Dier to his squad this month, but he’s after another reinforcement in defence, with PSG’s Nordi Mukiele also considered.
In a strange way, it might actually be wise for United to let Bayern have a free run at Araujo and hope they can secure his services, before pouncing on De Ligt, who by that point would be categorically surplus to requirements. The stage is set, then, for a game of transfer poker.