Manchester United have a realistic chance of signing Matthijs de Ligt from Bayern Munich in the summer, but it seems a move is dependent on whether or not they keep Erik ten Hag as manager.
According to Sky Sports Germany, De Ligt will be ‘allowed to leave’ Bayern at the end of the season after falling down their pecking order at centre-back since his arrival from Juventus in the summer of 2022.
As TEAMtalk has explained recently, Man Utd are in the market for defensive reinforcements. Reports have suggested they could overhaul their centre-back department in the summer.
While the likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans face uncertain futures, Man Utd are in the process of identifying players who could join Lisandro Martinez at centre-half.
A range of options have been linked with Man Utd, such as De Ligt, Leny Yoro (Lille), Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice) and Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach).
Focusing on De Ligt, Sky Sports Germany has confirmed that a summer exit from Munich is ‘conceivable’, especially if Bayern invest in another defender as they desire.
In that regard, Araujo is coincidentally a top target for the German giants too.
Worried about being third or even fourth choice – since Thomas Tuchel prefers a pairing of Kim Min-jae and Dayot Upamecano at centre-back – De Ligt has started to wonder about moving clubs.
What’s more, the Bayern board are aware of his stance and will subsequently listen to suitable offers for the Dutchman three years before the end of his contract.
It is reiterated that Man Utd are monitoring developments with De Ligt. As a right-footed centre-back, he could complement the left-footed Martinez – who both played under Ten Hag at Ajax, just not at the same time.
Would Ten Hag bring best out of De Ligt?
The report does not mention how much Bayern will charge for De Ligt’s exit. They originally invested €67m to sign him 18 months ago.
Since then, De Ligt has made 55 appearances for the club (12 of which have been this season), scoring four goals. He helped them retain their Bundesliga crown in his debut season, meaning he has now won league titles with all three of the clubs he has represented.
That said, the former Ajax captain has not developed in the way some expected he might have. Now, at the age of 24, he is looking for a club that will build around him again.
Perhaps reuniting with Ten Hag could be the way for him to unearth his potential again. However, that never happened for another former Ajax star, Donny van de Beek, at Old Trafford – nor has Antony been a success since following his manager from the Eredivisie.
Besides, Ten Hag himself is facing an uncertain future as Man Utd manager after a series of inconsistent results this season.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s arrival on the board will herald the start of a new project at Man Utd, which could ultimately lead to them choosing a different manager.
For now, Ten Hag is safe in his job and will be hoping to have an influence on some further Man Utd transfers.
There is limited wiggle room for the remainder of the January window, but it could be an exciting summer as the Ratcliffe revolution gets going.