Manchester United have been dealt a major blow in their plans for the upcoming transfer window as Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt rules out a move this summer.

It’s no secret Old Trafford officials are looking to target a new centre back following an injury crisis at the heart of Erik ten Hag’s defensive unit this season.

Lisandro Martinez has ben ruled out for most of the year with two separate injuries, while Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have all spent times on the treatment table as well.

At one point, all four of Ten Hag’s senior centre backs were ruled out at the same time, forcing the Dutchman to field a partnership of Jonny Evans and Willy Kambwala for the trip to West Ham. United would, predictably, lose 2-0.

Furthermore, at least one of these defenders are likely to depart Old Trafford this summer, with Varane and Evans’ contracts both set to expire. Similarly, reports continue to link Maguire with a move to West Ham, after the England international almost joined David Moyes’ side last summer.

As such, a new central defender has emerged as a top recruitment priority to strengthen this weakened unit; and De Ligt appeared the perfect option.

The 24 year old has previously worked with Ten Hag when the pair were both at Ajax, playing a key role in the Dutch club’s famous Champions League run in 2019. As such, the defender will be well-versed in the United manager’s methods and philosophy.

De Ligt is strong physically and aerially – a necessity for a new centre back at Old Trafford given the lack of height elsewhere in the team – and is also a leader with an excellent attitude. Ten Hag recognised these qualities himself, choosing to make De Ligt his captain in Amsterdam.

The Dutch manager has often spoken of the need for improvements in mentality and standards in the United dressing room since he arrived two summers ago. De Ligt would likely be a strong ally in these efforts.

The 24-year-old centre-back would, therefore, be the perfect option to upgrade United’s defence, with reports suggesting the club made an approach for him in January, and would look to rekindle this interest in the summer.

Which is why the latest update from the defender will prove such a blow.

During an interview while on international duty for Holland, De Ligt was asked about the idea of him leaving Bayern Munich this summer. He replied: “No, I am very happy at FC Bayern. The club and the fans have always given me a lot of love. I feel good now. I am very satisfied now, and hopefully, we can play very good games this season and go very far in the Champions League.”

While we can never say never in the chaotic world of football, this feels like a door being firmly closed. At least for this summer.

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