New Bayern Munich signing Daley Blind is gearing up for his first minutes in the Bundesliga after joining the record champions on a six-month deal in early January. The 32-year-old Netherlands international, who spoke about discovering a new league, his favoured position, and why he’s determined to outshine his old man…
Daley, how and why did this transfer happen so fast? Tell us about your first contact with Bayern.
“I think after Christmas it went really fast. The first conversations were there. In the beginning, you don’t take everything too seriously about interest, but in the end, they get serious. You’re really happy and excited. You get more and more excited the more you speak to them. When the opportunity came to really get at it, I was excited to get to go to this challenge. What more do I need to explain? It’s Bayern Munich!
“I think it started, of course, with the injury of [Lucas] Hernandez. Then they look for opportunities. I think my being a free agent was a good opportunity for them to fill in this role because I have the experience they were looking for. I think in that way we found each other. For me, this was also a big chance to be back at the top again, even if for now it’s for six months and after that, we see what happens.”
What do you make of the intensity and the focus in training? Is it different from Ajax?
“The intensity is quite high, a bit higher than I’m used to at the moment. Of course, I had some time off due to the situation at Ajax, so I went from zero to 100 really quickly. But I’m enjoying every moment. I know if you go to a club like Bayern that the intensity is very high. Of course, it’s top-level. I want to adapt as quickly as possible.”
You’ve played under great managers like Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Erik ten Hag. What do you think of the training methods under Julian Nagelsmann?
“It’s great to have trained in my career with different coaches. I’ve tried to learn different things from every manager, and always trying to pick something up. And also now with Julian Nagelsmann. You see his idea on the pitch, how he wants to explain it to the players. It’s really interesting and I hope to learn a lot about it.”
You’ve won big titles in your career, but you haven’t yet been able to fulfil your dream of winning the UEFA Champions League. Is this now a unique chance and your main goal with Bayern?
“I don’t want to put the focus on that. It’s just more I have this competition with my dad that he always jokes he has won one more trophy than me, and that’s the Champions League. And I was never able to win that one. And now with this team, they fight for every trophy on each level. If it’s the Bundesliga title, the DFB Cup or the Champions League, we’re still in the race, so anything is possible. And of course, if you are in a tournament, you want to win it.”
What did your dad [former pro-Danny Blind] think about the transfer?
“Of course, he’s excited as well. As I said, Bayern Munich, you don’t need an explanation. It’s a big club, one of the biggest clubs in the world. When you get the opportunity to play here, then of course your dad is proud.”
How much are you looking forward to facing Paris Saint-Germain – and Lionel Messi again [after the World Cup quarter-finals] – in the Champions League last 16?
“I’m looking forward to every match with this team, to be honest, also in the Bundesliga. It’s a great league to be in. But of course, the Champions League is something you dream of as a player. It’s the biggest stage you can play at, besides the World Cup. Of course, PSG is not only Messi. I think they have a great squad. But we do as well, so I think we can look forward to a great game.”
How is your relationship with fellow Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt? And what do you see as his greatest strengths?
“We have a really good relationship, on and off the pitch. We know each other quite well from our time at Ajax. We played both in the centre. I think we did really well together, playing together in the Champions League as well. He’s a big talent. He’s very strong, also very good with his feet on the ball, and very quick. I think he has everything a modern defender needs. I think he’s exactly where he needs to be.”
What’s your preferred position?
“I get this question so often… I don’t know! I think I prefer to play in the centre of the pitch. You have more options. But in recent years I played only on the left side, and for me, that’s also fine. I can adapt quickly to different positions. I think that’s sometimes a strong point of a player. Sometimes it can maybe be a discussion point, but I always see it as a strength that I can adapt in different ways. For me, it doesn’t matter. Just wherever the manager needs me, I’m able to play.
“I think I’m a ball-possession player or defender, I have my positive sides and downsides. But I think on the ball, that’s my strength. I think in a team like Bayern, which has a lot of possession, I can be important. I can play my game and try to find the players up front. I’m not trying to give assists but a lot of times I try to get the pre-assist. I enjoy the ball possession game. That’s also why I like being here, it’s the same philosophy as Ajax.”
How does the fact that you have a pacemaker impact you?
“It’s a difficult subject, of course. It was a hard time, but I think I managed quite well to get back to the top level, like playing at World Cup or Champions League level. I showed the world that we can do it – like [Christian] Eriksen also – we showed that we can do it and that it’s possible. I hope we inspire a lot of people with maybe the same problems. And of course, it’s something which you have in your daily life. When you wake up, you get in the shower, you see it, and you think about it. Sometimes when you’re exhausted, you’re in training or a match, sometimes it passes through your head if everything is OK. But I have a very good connection with my medical team and also here at Bayern now. I have real confidence in my body, so I manage to put it in a place in my head and I’m really confident that I can do everything again, which I show every day.”
You’ve played in the Dutch Eredivisie and the English Premier League. You’re now trying out the Bundesliga. What’s your perception of the German top flight?
“I think it’s a league with a lot of strength, a lot of paces. A lot of games at full speed. I think every opponent has a lot of quality and experience. So it’s a very tough league. I regularly watch Bundesliga games, and you see there’s always a high tempo. I’m really looking forward to being able to play in the Bundesliga.”