Is he a defender? Is he a midfielder? Does it even matter? Daley Blind's arrival at Bayern Munich has led to questions about where the Dutchman might play under Julian Nagelsmann.
bundesliga.com takes a closer look...
When the 99-time Dutch international arrived at Bayern in early January, it is fair to say it caught many by surprise. But while the transfer largely came out of the blue, signing the 32-year-old appears to be an increasingly shrewd piece of business the more you look at it.
The defensive all-rounder can slot into this Bayern team right away and can unquestionably help the Bavarians on their quest for yet another Bundesliga title. The transfer can be traced directly back to November’s World Cup match between France and Australia, in which Lucas Hernandez ruptured a cruciate ligament, forcing upon him a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The alarm bells were immediately ringing at Säbener Straße. While they have plenty of cover at centre-back in the form of Dayot Upamecano, Matthijs de Ligt and Benjamin Pavard, the fact that Hernandez is naturally left-footed and the aforementioned trio are not left them with a gap to be filled in the squad.
Furthermore, should Alphonso Davies get injured or require a breather, right-footed right-backs Josip Stanisic and Bouna Sarr would be square-shaped solutions to a round-shaped hole at left-back in Julian Nagelsmann's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Those problems were solved in one fell swoop by bringing in Blind, who can even operate in defensive midfield, although that is unlikely given the fierce competition for places that already exists between Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Marcel Sabitzer and Ryan Gravenberch.
Such positional flexibility makes Blind a prized possession for Bayern - not least because he was a free agent after his contract at Ajax was terminated by mutual consent in December. Yet even labelling his role as primarily one of emergency back-up is doing him a huge disservice.
Blind offers Bayern an immeasurable amount, as he is able to bring with him a whole host of experience and title-winning know-how, having played at the elite level for over a decade and won trophies galore at Ajax and Manchester United. He also had a strong World Cup campaign with the Netherlands in Qatar.
The new Bayern No.23 has spent the bulk of his career playing on the left side of central defence, and is regarded as having an excellent football brain. He remains an exquisite interceptor of the ball, and a player who can switch the play at rapid speed, winning the ball back for his team and initiating its attacks.
He knows exactly when the time is right to bomb forward, as well as sniffing out the occasion to remain deep and help stabilise the defence. Perhaps more than anything else, though, Blind is widely acclaimed for his game intelligence, tactical understanding, and technical discipline. He is not simply about raw power, but rather making the right decision at the right time.
Another huge asset for Bayern will be Blind's friendship with de Ligt, with the compatriots having already marshalled the Dutch defence together on a number of occasions, indicating that their chemistry and experience is something Bayern can exploit.
Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic is convinced that Blind will greatly strengthen the team’s backline. Speaking in early January he said, “we are very happy that Daley is joining our team. He’s a versatile defender, he can play at left-back as well as centre-back. He has great international experience and leadership qualities, and I’m sure that he will be of huge help to us”.
Blind has also made clear his eagerness for the task ahead. “I can’t wait to play here. We’re now entering the most important part of the season – where titles are at stake. A club like Bayern can win any trophy. The hunger for titles here at the club was a major reason in my decision to join. Ultimately, I hope I can use my experience to help the team and I will give everything for Bayern Munich”.
At times underrated, Blind now possesses the opportunity to perform on Germany’s highest stage. The experienced Dutchman, who has signed a deal keeping him at the club till the end of the season, was straight into the action by joining the squad on a training camp in Doha.
Blind: "What more do I need to explain? It's Bayern!"
Daley Blind sits down for an exclusive chat with bundesliga.com about his move to the record champions.
Bundesliga title race: the runners and riders
Bayern's lead has been cut to a point - can Union, Leipzig, BVB, Freiburg or Frankfurt end their 10-year reign as champions?
Official Bundesliga transfer centre: January 2023
Find out all the ins and outs, now the winter transfer window has closed for business...