FC Bayern Transfer Summer: Open the window!

Justin Separator June 20, 2019

It’s hot these days. 30 degrees and hotter – even in Munich people start sweating. Fans of FC Bayern are also likely to sweat. Regardless of the temperature it doesn’t look like the Bayern management have a good plan at the moment.

A cure against hot temperatures is fresh air. If it is windy outside and you open the windows, it can be a refreshment. In the case of Bayern, you still have to wait: The transfer window does not open until July. In many places, the sports directors of the clubs still dare to go to the windows, look around and sometimes even tilt them open.

On Säbener Straße, however, it seems to be so stuffy because of the closed transfer window that Mats Hummels even leaves the club. One sweats. And waits. One still wants to do something, but one must “wait and see what’s possible”, at least that’s the opinion of Hasan Salihamidžić. 

The Starting Position

If you look at the current squad of FC Bayern, however, the sweat intensifies again: 15 professional outfield players are currently at the disposal of Bayern in the coming season. Among them is Jérôme Boateng – whose transfer was considered probable until a few days ago. If you subtract Davies and Arp, who recommended themselves for the 3rd league or a loan rather than for the pros in the last second half of the season, then it’s only 12. Renato Sanches situation is also unclear. Bayern will have to replace Robben, Ribéry, Rafinha, Hummels and James this summer – a lot of experience that has left the club. Players who have not always made the difference in terms of performance, but know how to win titles. Dortmund, on the other hand, just won such a player from Munich.

In the past season, the Bayern squad consisted of 18 outfield players plus Wagner in the first half and Davies in the second half – excluding the youth players. A constellation which was criticized by many and which also posed problems for Bayern during the season. Until the signing of Carlo Ancelotti it was a principle established by Michael Reschke that 20, at least 19 field players plus goalkeepers and youth players should be in the squad. Thus a healthy depth was given, which was just to be moderated by the coaches.

Now you can expect 13 outfield players and Davies as well as Arp as a supplement. So there are 6 missing to fulfill the former Reschke principle. There are 5 missing to restore the status quo of the last season. And even if Kovač expects fewer injuries due to the younger squad structure and thus wants to reduce the squad to 18 professional field players, 4 signings are still missing.

Squad analysis

Substitute players marked in green are not in the starting eleven; substitute players marked in red are already in the starting eleven or in another role.

The Attack

For FC Bayern it is still a long way until the training starts on July 8th. While the national competition in particular has already positioned themselves well and is only looking for additions or even has to sell players, about a quarter of the Bayern squad is still unclear.

But how should these spaces be filled? What is to be expected from Salihamidžić and Bayern? Based on the rumours it can already be concluded which player types Bayern are looking for for the new season. If you look at the chart above, you can see how understaffed the offensive is after the departures of James, Robben and Ribéry. With Alphonso Davies and Fiete Arp only two substitutes are marked green, who are not already in the regular team or needed in another position. The conclusion: If a player from Lewandowski, Gnabry or Coman is injured, there are already big problems – also because Davies and Arp are big question marks simply in terms of the short-term quality.

The rumours about Leroy Sané are therefore only logical. The 23-year-old would be the ideal choice for FC Bayern. Even if he still has room for improvement in his defensive behaviour, he would not only add depth to the offense, but above all at the top. As high as his price may be, his signing would make sense, if only because there is no alternative on the market that is nearly as attractive as he is as a complete package.

Two for the wing, one for the centre?

As a German international, he fits perfectly into the alleged shopping policy of the Bayern bosses. Since Davies and also youth players like Batista Meier are not ready yet, another wing player is needed. Here, the transfer of a player who is at the beginning of his development, but has at the same time already proven himself at professional level, would be a good idea. Pépé and Hudson-Odoi were rumors that fit this category.

With 2 transfers Bayern would now stand with 16-17 outfield players – space for 3-4 further transfers, depending on how one plans with Fiete Arp. For the offensive center there are currently fewer rumors, but Robert Lewandowski of all people reopened the discussion about a backup for him: Although the name Timo Werner circulated again and again, but the attacker is despite his speed no one who makes smart decisions against low opponents in narrow spaces. At the same time, he is technically too limited to be used regularly on the wings. For the estimated 40 million Euros the risk would be so high that it would make more sense, if at all, for Bayern to get Werner for free one year later.

Another name is Kai Havertz. He is more like someone who comes from the depths, but could fill both gaps on the ten and on the nine (if properly embedded). Again, it is more likely that Bayern will strike a year later. An interesting intermediate solution would be Max Kruse, who would be at least on national level a reinforcement in the depth – here however a lot points to a move to Frankfurt.

The Midfield

It is therefore more likely that Bayern will only strike if there is a unique opportunity – so there are still 16-17 outfield players in the theoretical game. But the departure of James has opened up another construction site than the one in the offensive: A player is missing who can give the Munich midfield a basic structure and who provides creative moments.

Therefore there were rumours about Rodrigo (Atlético Madrid) – not a ten, but a six. The young Spaniard is more of a Martínez than a James. Robust, strong in duels, tall – Rodrigo has almost everything he needs to stabilise a midfield. He doesn’t set offensive accents. But he is already technically and strategically at a higher level than Javi Martínez. He can play the game from the back, cleverly position himself and free himself from tight pressing situations. No wonder Pep Guardiola wants him.

If Rodrigo were to move to Manchester City, it would be hard to find a good alternative. De Jong (Barcelona) has long been off the market and most other players would have bigger question marks. Here you have to find an alternative to relieve Thiago’s role.

The Defense

With another transfer, Bayern would now stand with 17-18 outfield players. In the defense, however, the Reds have created another problem: Hummels strengthens the rival from Dortmund. Boateng, Pavard, Hernández and Süle currently occupy the central defender positions.

It can certainly be said that the club is taking a big risk here: Pavard had a difficult year in Stuttgart and has yet to prove that he has reached a very high level. Hernández and Süle are not regarded as the best build-up players, even though they have made progress here recently. With Boateng, the question remains whether he can reach his true level at all again. 

On paper it would be okay to start the season with the four players. More optimal would probably have been a Boateng sale and a Hummels stay. But now it is dependent on Boateng to get at least one last good and important year for the young players or to replace him adequately. Even more problematic could be the positions of the full-backs. Although Kimmich and Alaba are set here, Pavard and Hernández are already in central defence as backups. This double line-up is a further risk, which increases especially if Boateng should also leave. No later than then Bayern must become active again: Kabak is currently a much more realistic rumour than de Ligt, which would tie up too much money and thus prevent more important transfers to other positions.

Further fields of action

But apart from buying another central defender, there are three more possibilities to reduce the risk in the defense. Number 1: Lukas Mai. The 19-year-old needs a much higher level in the coming season than in the 3rd league. As fourth central defender, he could collect a few minutes in the Bundesliga and Pokal and take the next step. Pavard could then help out at times as a right-back. 

The other two variants are more likely. Number 2: Push Martínez into central defense when needed. In possession of the ball, the Basque reveals more and more weaknesses, which are less important in central defense. Against the ball, on the other hand, he meets all the requirements at international level.

The third option is to hire a full-back who, like Rafinha, can play on both sides. But also here Salihamidžić would be in demand, because the market rarely gives away such players. In the past season Bayern had no big problems with only 3 full-backs and 3 central defenders (plus Martínez). But the 2015/16 season showed that things could be different: Suddenly Alaba and Kimmich had to help out in the centre. Another player would therefore not be bad. There are also plans with Alphonso Davies to give him time in the left-back position – an idea that is interesting, but requires some testing.

Include the youth more?

After much talk about him, he is now here: The upheaval! Many young players will have to take the next step in Munich, some players like Thiago or Alaba will move up one hierarchy level. Older players, on the other hand, have left the club or have to back down in the hierarchy. 

It would also be possible to consciously involve some youth players more closely in order to fill the squad. The former principle of 20 professional field players plus youth players could become a kind of 18 plus youth. Lukas Mai is only one of the candidates who could be valuable for the professionals as a supplement. Zirkzee would also be interesting as a natural backup option for Lewandowski.

It is highly questionable whether Bayern will dare to take this step – especially as staying in the third division with the second team should have a certain priority. However, a thinner squad with the intention that young talents would gain more time would be a step worth supporting. This would take one or two steps backwards, but in the long run it might be possible to start a similar success story as in 2009. The talent is present in some players from the campus. The only question is whether this plays a role in the minds of the people involved.

Conclusion: Open the window!

If one now assumes that at least 4 new players (2 wing forwards, 1 midfielder, 1 defender or attacker) are recruited for all vacancies, Bayern would have 18-19 outfield players. In view of the last few years this would be a low value. However, with Robben and Ribéry two players are also gone who were prone to injuries. 

Thanks to the younger squad structure, this could go well. At the moment, however, nothing is fixed. That makes you think. Especially Hasan Salihamidžić will have to be measured against this transfer window like no other and all he currently has to announce is the invitation to wait. It is perhaps the most important transfer summer of the last years. The much quoted upheaval takes place exactly now and Salihamidžić carries a large responsibility for it, which Hoeneß and Rummenigge affirm even again and again.

With Sané and Rodrigo two big names are circulating. If no players of this quality come, that would be a further damage to the sports director’s image. If he conducts the transfer summer however positively, he could also make an important step in the external appearance. It remains exciting in Munich. When have we sweated enough on Säbener Strasse and finally open the transfer window? Patience is certainly often a good advisor. But Bayern wait and sweat too long on the stuffy Säbener Strasse, threatening to dehydrate – the desired players and the competition on the market will not wait either. It’s time to open the window.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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