Seeing Holger Badstuber with a hanging head definitely wasn’t unusual. When Schalke’s centre-back left the pitch after picking up his second yellow on the 1st of March 2017 at 10:17 pm he looked disappointed, mumbled something to himself and dropped his head in classic Badstuber-style. It was probably the last time, that the Allianz Arena audience saw the FC Bayern academy graduate, the kid, that was mentioned in the same breath as Thomas Müller a few years ago.
Since his first injury at the start of December 2012 Badstuber’s career path went downhill. Of course, the comebacks after injury set-backs, the inifite amount of praise from Pep Guardiola and the support of the team when they held his shirt into the cameras after winning titles were short highs. Moments one surely believed, that he could reach the high level he once had again.
The bitter punchline
Soon the realisation settled in, that Badstuber’s permanent return to the top of the Bayern squad wouldn’t happen. There are several reasons. To blame Badstuber for any of his bad luck with injuries would be absurd. At the same time one has to state, that it was simply impossible for him to keep up. And definitely not in the phase between 2013-2016, when most of the players in the squad made massive strides through a lot of training and individual work in all areas. That Holger constantly had to play catch up in the era of a manager, who could’ve developed a ball-playing centre-back like no other, is the bitter punchline in his sad story.
From FC Bayern’s point of view it was obvious, that they couldn’t safely rely on him anymore after the 2013/2014 season, so it was only logical to reinforce the centre-back position. Boateng had his spot nailed down and next to him Dante, Benatia and Martínez as well as Kimmich and Alaba at times were his partner in central defence. Bayern’s defence is regarded as one of the best in the world and therefore it’s a horrible place for injury-prone players.
Disruption in winter 2016/17
Hence the reasons for the termination of the relationship between FC Bayern and Holger Badstuber were clear. However, at the start of the season it was decided there would be one more attempt under Carlo Ancelotti – were the manager wouldn’t be the decisive person.
The variable which would break the balance between Badstuber and FC Bayern was the signing of Mats Hummels. With the return of the lost son, who was also a competitor of Badstuber in the national team for many years, the club made a clear statement: The time of the unconditional, romantic but in the end football-wise disillusioned support of Holger Badstuber was coming to an end. Instead, they went for the safer world-class solution in Mats Hummels.
The Badstuber camp was visibly struggling to accept the new situation. The very few minutes of game time in the first half of the season were apparently the ultimate breaking point and the public transfer request from Badstuber. His wish was granted, the short loan to FC Schalke seemed like a good option for both sides.
Consequences – for both sides
Now we’re back and it’s May 2017, when not only FC Schalke notified Badstuber that they wouldn’t sign him, FC Bayern simultaneously denied reports of a rumoured contract extension. The consequences? Holger Badstuber has a problem.
The fact is: He’s still a superbly talented centre-back who could play a solid role in 15 out of 18 Bundesliga clubs. It’s also a fact, that Badstuber is used to high wages and is still injury-prone. Badstuber’s wish, according to reports, is a transfer to England – where the wages shouldn’t be an issue compared to the Bundesliga competition.
FC Bayern has a problem, too. The case Holger Badstuber is showing once more, that the club is currently struggling to bridge the gap between the familial Miasanmia atmosphere and the demands of being an international elite club.
The communication of the Badstuber transfer, unkind, short phrased and with the horrible term “clarification” in the headline led to outrage. The dealing with a big fan favourite of the past years is shockingly chilly and will be a perfect example in the future for those critics who view FC Bayern as a huge, internationalised and unapproachable mega club.
It would’ve been so easy to avoid this disaster. An open communication of the contract details from the start as well as an announcement from Badstuber in January saying he’ll definitely leave FC Bayern would’ve meant that the “Holger case” will be closed, instead of it getting shredded.
With the press release on Friday FC Bayern disappointingly made sure, that Badstuber’s exit from the Allianz Arena is one not worthy of him.