Miasanrot Awards 2022/2023: FC Bayern – loan of the season
Chelsea FC has a tradition of loaning out players in large numbers. The London club affectionately name them their “Loan Army”. For many years now, the Blues have loaned out a number of players to other clubs every year, some of them not having played a single game for Chelsea for many years. In the past, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku were among the players loaned out.
Over the past few years, FC Bayern, too, have gradually built up a ‘loan army’. This is not primarily about preparing players for their own professional careers. Rather, loaning out players has become a business model to make a financial profit. At the end of their training period on the campus, many players are too good for the amateurs in the fourth division, where the Bayern reserves are currently playing, but not yet good enough to generate a transfer fee commensurate with the costs FC Bayern has invested in the player’s training.
With a loan to a club in a higher league, Bayern not only give the players playing practice at a high level, they also increase their market value. In the summer of 2022, Chris Richards (€12 million), Joshua Zirkzee (€8.5 million), Lukas Mai (€1.6 million) , Nicolas Kühn (€0.5 million), Alex Timossi Andersson (€0.5 million) and Armindo Sieb (€0.2 million), among others, could be monetised after their loan spells.
In the past season, FC Bayern loaned out numerous players to clubs all over Europe. The most successful season had Malik Tillman (21), who became Scottish runners-up with Rangers from Glasgow and was also voted best young player of the season in the process.
Tillman joined FC Bayern in 2015, together with his older brother Timothy, who was the actual transfer target of FC Bayern at the time. However, those responsible quickly realised that the young Malik was a little more talented than his brother. Initially, he was used as a central offensive player behind a striker. It quickly became clear, however, that his outstanding game intelligence enabled him to play almost all positions on the field. Scouts and observers of youth football joked that goalkeeper was the only position Malik had not yet played.
Tillman quickly stood out so much that he was promoted to play a level above his age group. In the 2017/18 season, he was German runners-up with the U17s and played the more offensive part of the double six alongside Angelo Stiller. He then remained with the U17s and captained Miro Klose’s team. His performance in the first half of the season as an attacking central player was so convincing that he was promoted to the U19s during the winter break. There he again played the whole range of attacking positions, but more and more he was deployed as a striker.
When, after the COVID-19 pandemic, play in the 3rd division picked up again (where the Bayern reserves played back then), Malik Tillman, alongside a certain Jamal Musiala, moved up to the amateurs early on and impressed straight away. With five goals in ten games, he made a significant contribution to the amateurs’ championship. Afterwards, in the following season, he was earmarked as a leading player for the team and, like Musiala, was on the verge of making it into the professional squad. But just when his career seemed to be really taking off, fate struck. In ‘Bayern Amateure’s’ second home game of the season, he tore the cruciate ligament in his left knee after 14 minutes – season out.
It was not until a full year later that he was back on the pitch, in August 2021 in a Regionalliga match against Schalding Heining. A year of shuttling between the amateurs and the first team followed, in which he made seven appearances. However, it quickly became clear that he needed regular playing practice at a higher level.
Several options were on the table for Tillman in the summer of 2022, but in the end, together with FC Bayern, they took up the offer from Rangers in Scotland. A one-year loan with an option to buy of €7 million, coupled with a buy-back option for the German record champions. Especially the possibility to play in the Champions League with Rangers was decisive for the decision to go to Scotland. And it turned out to be absolutely right. Under coach Michael Beale, he was a regular from the start, mostly in attacking midfield, sometimes also on the wings. He contributed twelve goals and five assists to Rangers’ runners-up finish.
He also made four starting appearances in the Champions League group stage but failed to add to his tally. With six defeats in the ‘group of death’ with Napoli, Ajax and Liverpool, Rangers were not competitive. He hit the headlines mainly with a goal he scored in the Scottish cup. Tillman had been treated for an injury and was unaware that the opposition would play the ball back to Rangers after a throw-in. In full competitive spirit, he stole the ball from the stunned last defender and scored to make it 2-1, sparking a frenzy on the pitch that eventually led to a goal for their opponents.
Even though he suffered a thigh injury at the end of April and missed the season finale, Rangers have already declared that they want to use the buying option for Tillman. Everything had already been sorted with FC Bayern, Rangers coach Beale explained most recently. But Tillman seems to be hesitating, and after a strong season he should not be short of options. This could be good news for FC Bayern, who could manage to negotiate more than the agreed €7 million euros from Rangers. Ultimately, however, the Bayern transfer team and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will have to take the player’s inclinations into account. It will be interesting to see how Malik Tillman’s career develops over the next few years. Had it not been for the cruciate ligament injury, he could have been a real option for Bayern. However, there is no doubt that he will be back in the Bundesliga sooner or later, regardless of his current decision. The important thing from Bayern’s point of view is that they still have a say in the matter. Be it through the buy-back option with Rangers or the upcoming negotiations with another club.