Column: My Five Cents
The column represents my personal opinion on the topics dealt with. I would be very happy to hear your opinion, stimulating discussions and constructive criticism in the comments.
1. Bye Bye, Mats!
In the end everything went very fast. Not even one week after the Springer press reported from out of the blue about an upcoming transfer for Mats Hummels, the FC Bayern press released an announcement on Wednesday. The 70-time German international leaves the record champion after just three successful years and returns to Borussia Dortmund.
For Hummels himself, the change makes as much sense as it does for the eternal pursuer from the Ruhrpott. BVB will have a leader and experienced strategists who will stabilize the young defense to finally lead a successful attack on FC Bayern after seven years. The central defender gets the guarantee of playing time, which he was denied in Munich.
In the case of the current German champion, on the other hand, the departure leaves several question marks despite the still considerable compensation of up to 38 million euros. Does FC Bayern really have a plan in the transfer market or is it more impulse-driven? Is it possible to compensate for the loss of the best central defender in the second half of the season in the fight against the ball and, above all, in the game’s build-up? Can Boateng be kept after all that has happened and what do you do if the second ex-national team player should also leave? Is Kovač able to manage the squad or are they trying to give him the easiest path possible by selling all the troublemakers?
All of these questions will only be answered at the end of the transfer period or possibly even at the end of the next season.
But what remains of Mats Hummels after three years of FC Bayern? Memories of fantastic build-up play and breathtaking diagonal balls. The tackle of the 2016/17 season – hell, even the tackle of the decade. And of course the bizarre #Thomats Challenge.
2. Olli Kahn Turns 50
Legends never die, as we know, but they get older. Last week, Oliver Kahn also suffered this fate. The Titan turned 50 years old – half a century. Perhaps the greatest goalkeeper in the history of FC Bayern, he is likely to join the board of the record champions eleven years after the end of his career. On this occasion, I would like to briefly address three formative moments in Kahn’s career – without claiming completeness.
Faux pas in the World Cup final: The story of Oliver Kahn is also one of the setbacks. Barcelona 1999, Roberto Carlos 2004, and Yokohama, Ronaldo 2002. After his sensational parades in the knockout matches against Paraguay, the USA and South Korea, the hero Kahn made a mistake in the final that the German team would never have reached without him. He could only rebound one shot from Rivaldo. Ronaldo finished ice cold. After the game, the Titan sits alone with his back against the goal post. He, the superman, suddenly seems quite human. He was destined to remain unsuccessful throughout his career for the national team.
Kahn! Die Bayern!: Perhaps the greatest moment and triumph in Kahn’s life as an athlete should of course not be missing here. Two years after the bitter failure against Manchester United, everything seemed set for a good day in Milan to make history. The history of FC Bayern, and also of Kahn, who captured Bayern’s victory in a penalty shootout with three mad parries. The first shot from Zahovič he cleared with ease. The shot from Carboni he directed by reflex to the lower edge of the bar and when he held against the last shooter Pellegrini, all hell broke lose. Or to say it like Marcel Reif: Kahn – who else?
Getafe’s broken nose: After a weak season, FC Bayern had to compete in the 2006/07 Cup of Losers. Instead of the Bernabeu they went to the quarter finals in the Madrid suburb of Getafe. And lo and behold, the big FCB stumbled enormously. In extra time it was at 3:1 for the Spaniards. After Luca Toni’s goal then only 3:2, but it was already in injury time. Sosa’s free-kick came from the left. Kahn went up the field, although he had never scored before. On the edge of the box, the ball actually comes to him and he wins the header duel. Back in the middle, Toni scores to make it 3-3. All Munich players are out of their minds. Lead by all his emotions Kahn broke the nose of Mark van Bommel. No big deal.
3. Loan or Buyback Option?
Despite the much acclaimed promotion of the amateurs, FC Bayern currently has a number of young players in its squad whose development is not sufficiently supported by experience in the third division. With Adrian Fein and Woo-Yeong Jeong, they have already lost two of these players. But while midfield director Fein was loaned out to HSV for a year, Jeong was sold to the tranquil town of Breisgau. A buyback option was probably written into the contract. But which is the better approach?
When it comes to lending, Bayern fans are likely to think of Lahm, Kroos and Alaba at first. All of them positive examples for a good loan at the right time. The loan is a good option to give young players experience without giving them control over their future careers. But the host club must also fit the player. Otherwise, the talent will suffer like Renato Sanches in Swansea, whose loan developed into a terrible nightmare. A new coach or unrest in the management can quickly shorten the playing time and turn the loan into a failure. A wasted year in the background.
Then would you prefer a sale with a buy-back option? After all, the selling club has all possibilities here. If the player is not able to assert himself, there is no obligation to take him back. If he does, you can usually get him back below his market value. A model that Real Madrid successfully used with Dani Carvajal, for example. In addition, a sale offers the advantage that the player can integrate himself more easily in the club, since his departure is not certain from the first day. A negative example, however, is shown by FC Bayern. For Emre Can, for example, Bayern had secured a buyback option. But when the national team player moved on to Liverpool after one season, they lost all claims.
The loan may seem safer, but it can also be less successful. It will be exciting to see with which strategy FC Bayern will proceed with the other candidates like Lukas Mai and Christian Früchtl. The question will also be which option best suits the player’s individual development plan.
4. New Squad Hierarchy
With Hummels, Ribéry, Robben and Rafinha Bayern loses a lot of routine. Together with James, who is also leaving, there are up to 2460 games of competitive experience. But also in the dressing room you lose some important figures. With Ribéry and Rafinha Munich loses two popular characters, with Robben a mentor as well as a role model for young players and with Hummels a world class leader.
It’s high time that other players advance into these roles. The average age of the Bayern squad will decrease significantly and therefore the younger players are in particular demand now. According to a report by Springer Press, Kimmich and Thiago in particular will take on more responsibility and move up to the next hierarchical level. A very clever decision. The Spaniard is already pivotal on the pitch. Therefore, it makes more than sense for him to slip into this role in the dressing room as well.
As for Kimmich, many Bayern fans are unanimous in their opinion that he will sooner or later be considered for captain. His body language and energy on the pitch underline his mentality. In interviews he answers calmly and self-critically, like perhaps only a Hummel. He also exemplifies the workload of a role model.
5. Sané or insane?
If a 23-year-old winger who has scored 25 goals in 89 Premier League games, provided 31 assists, is a German national team player and has even the slightest chance of being available on the transfer market, then the German record champion has to open the transfer window wide and prepare the money truck as a precaution. For weeks there have been rumors that Leroy Sané is no longer fully satisfied in Manchester and could imagine switching to FC Bayern. Though many reports contradict each other regarding the actual state of the negotiations.
In any case, I don’t know when the last time I was so happy about a possible transfer for the Munich team. Maybe when Ruud van Nistelrooy was looking for a new club in the summer of 2006? Sané has everything that FC Bayern needs – dribbling power, final power, speed and agility. It would be THE reinforcement for which Bayern fans have longed for. With him, Kovač’s team would immediately become more unpredictable and more powerful in the attack.
But what are the alternatives if the Sané balloon should burst in the end? 24-year-old Nicolas Pépé has scored an incredible 33 goals for Lille this season. But can he repeat that without any international experience at a higher level in the Bundesliga and Champions League? Coach Zidane wants to chase off the previously most expensive player in the world, Gareth Bale, at Real Madrid. But do you really want to get the next whimsical and disgruntled superstar after James, who also gets a staggering salary?
Then there is the Prince of Winter, Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is currently afflicted with a serious Achilles’ injury. Despite his talents, his profile looks similar to that of Pépé. An outstanding talent, but not the difference-maker the Reds need right now.
FC Bayern must go all-in and far beyond their pain threshold for Sané. Such a chance will otherwise not be available to the record champion so easily.