Reinventing Bayern’s Women’s Team pt. 2 – Why the Turnover?
For one, there is a group of players with contracts ending this season. If our research is correct, this includes Caro Abbé, Katha Baunach, Nora Halstad, Vivianne Miedema, and Sarah Romert. The contracts of these players were cancelled ahead of schedule: Claire Falknor (contract until summer 2017), Vanessa Bürki, Stefanie van der Gragt, Mana Iwabuchi, Lisa Evans (all contracts until summer 2018). Verónica Boquete had also signed on until summer 2018 originally, but left the club even before last season.
We don’t want to talk about the sociological phenomenon of contracts in general, nor about the sanctity of contracts in football in particular, but we can say this much: a contract is entered by two parties to ensure a certain behaviour for a certain amount of time in the future. In football, the main principle upon which this agreement is made, is performance.
In order to sign a new contract, a number of contributing factors need to be aligned, not all of which are of equal importance in cases of merely upholding the agreement. Generally speaking, however, both cases require the following questions to be answered with Yes:
- Does the player feel well in the team / club / town?
- Does the player believe that in this team she can continue her own development in areas like sporting ability, health, character, finance, personal life, and life after football, at least as well as, if not better than at any other club, or after any other step she could take?
- Does the club believe that the player can make a sufficient development in all areas to be a greater help in reaching the club’s goals, than another available player could be?
- Does the club have the incentive, both sporting and financial, as well as good balance within the squad, to give this player a contract?
Looking at it from another perspective: Which criteria could a club have to release a player from a valid contract? It’s usually one of, or a mixture of, these three reasons: injuries, lack of interest, decency.
It’s fairly plausible that Mana Iwabuchi and Stefanie van der Gragt could have been very influential in FC Bayern’s future success – but they were thrown back by knee injuries. Contracts are meant to insure players, especially in case of injury. Players from abroad, however, often prefer getting back to good health in well-known surroundings back home, rather than being stranded in Munich.
„We’re obliging Mana with this decision. After several injuries, she would like to move back to her home and return to old strength there.“Karin Danner, FCB Women’s manager, via fcbayern.com.
For the same reason, Sarah Romert and Katha Baunach stayed in Munich to go through their rehab period. The club renewed their contracts, explicitly to give them time to get well again. The ground rule of “home helps” also seems to apply to Leonie Maier, who spent plenty of time in Stuttgart with her cruciate rupture.
There are no known instances of FC Bayern bullying players out of contracts. The negative-sounding factor “lack of interest” merely means that the club reaches the understanding that goals can be achieved even without the player in question, if they are happy to transfer out. As an example, Claire Falknor only played for the second team in the early stages of last season, despite a number of injuries within the first team. If both sides then don’t think there is a future at FC Bayern, it makes sense to dissolve the contract.
Decency plays a bigger role in women’s football because while professional players do get by on their wages, they’re far from well-off. There’s only a handful of clubs that can pay five-digit monthly wages to female players – FC Bayern is not one of them. Blocking a player’s future by insisting on fulfilling a contract could therefore have a bigger impact than it would for a male player.
Bayern’s sporting perspective is all right, but not top-notch. Somebody like Vero Boquete is invaluable in the team’s creative midfield centre, like Thiago would be for SV Darmstadt, or for FC Cologne. But the merit principle works both ways: the club has to be good enough for the player. There is no doubt about Boquete’s outstanding character. Joining the team with an injury, she managed the feat of integrating into surroundings where behaviour on the field is what counts most – especially if German isn’t one’s mother tongue. She gave everything she had for the good of the team.
If a player of her standing then has the opportunity to sign a lucrative deal with one of the best clubs in the world – Paris Saint-Germain – giving her the opportunity to shine with her strengths and make the most of her abilities, then the current club can either force her to stay and train for meetings with clubs like SC Sand, or they can wish her best of luck and let her go.
Vanessa Bürki is part of Switzerland’s preliminary squad for the Euros in the Netherlands this summer. Maybe this was a last big goal for her to achieve when she renewed her contract for two years once more in April 2016, after eleven years at FC Bayern. If she’s now starting to wonder if all the work she’s putting into it is worth it for roughly three league games (272 minutes; 13.74%), and if the club believes that her place in the team could be filled so that the team can grow, then there’s not a lot of obstacles for an amicable split.
One could’ve definitely imagined Lisa Evans playing a role at FC Bayern in the future. With her electric pace she’s always an invigorating element in attack. However, she also only got about half of the possible minutes in the league (1050/1980; 53.03%), slightly less than what Evans had in her first year (1148/1980; 57.98%). The Scottish international has been in Germany for a few years now (three in Potsdam, two in Munich) and if this tendency is getting worse for her, instead of achieving the breakthrough, she could leave for a new team where she could inherit a bigger role. Especially, if U19s international Anna Gerhardt’s minutes who is playing in the same position will increase in the future, which is to be expected.
Addendum: Lisa Evans follows Miedema to London and joins Arsenal
— Arsenal Ladies (@ArsenalLadies) 29. Juni 2017
A bigger role in a new enviroment after eleven years at FC Bayern could be the goal for Katha Baunach, while it might seem like a risk for the club to extend her contract considering her injury troubles. Once she’s fit there’s no question, that she’s a great addition to any German team with her technical ability and experience.
Addendum: Katha Baunach signs for VfL Wolfsburg
📝 Herzlich willkommen bei den Wölfinnen, Katharina Baunach! 👍 Die 28-jährige hat einen Zweijahresvertrag unterschrieben. pic.twitter.com/tp3Q7pRW6M
— VfL Wolfsburg Frauen (@VfLWob_Frauen) May 31, 2017
Similar to Baunach, Sarah Romert could finally get some playing time again after what seemed like an eternity. From the outside it’s tough to say if the physical condition or the evaluation of performance got in the way of a new contract. As mentioned before, the conditions for a contract extension are tougher than a contract not being terminated. Apparently both parties couldn’t answer every question with yes. We’re eager to see where her path is going to go.
Addendum: Knee injury prohibits Sarah Romert from continuing her career
Captain of the Swiss national team Caro Abbé can’t be happy with her development in Munich as of late. Her share of minutes went from 75.35% (1492 minutes) down to 48.59% (962 minutes). When she was needed because of injuries she played a massive part in the successful second half of the season and reaching Champions League football in the final weeks. Thus makes one recognise Abbé’s phenomenal character and ability. It was still not enough for both parties to reach an agreement for a new deal.
At the European Championship in the Netherlands she can promote herself. She returns to Switzerland and joins FC Zürich next saison.
The departure of vice-captain Nora Holstad is a huge loss. Her contract expired, too. Three and a half years the 30-year-old Norwegian was a rock at the back and was a backbone for this success story. With a view from the outside she could’ve helped the club at least one or two more years. If Bayern won’t offer a new contract,
I’ll go down to the basement and cry, it’d be hard to comprehend. It’s more likely, that Holstad wants to make the next step in her career. All we can do is say thank you and wish her all the best in the future.
Update: Nora Holstad transfers to North Carolina in the NWSL
— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) 8. August 2017
— WoSo Comps (@WoSoComps) 22. Mai 2017
The picture is pretty clear in the case of Vivianne Miedema’s departure. The club was fighting for her to stay but didn‘t manage to offer a deal that convinced her.
„We also didn’t want to bust our framework.“
Karin Danner, FCB-Women team manager on ovb-online.
Next to Arsenal FC, where the forward will play from next season on, Miedema visited other clubs but the feedback from other Dutch players in the team, the facilities and the fact, that a Spaniard is head coach – which stands for technically adept attacking football – convinced her, according to her own statements.
— Arsenal Ladies (@ArsenalLadies) 23. Mai 2017
One last gift to FC Bayern were her goals in the final minutes of the season which led to Tom Wörle and his team reaching the Champions League once again. We’d like to say thank you and wish her all the best in the future.
That’s the best assement we can provide on the reasons for the transfers. We’ll follow closely, if future events will paint a different picture or if we’ve done a good job in it.
In the third part of our series we’ll look ahead and see how well prepared FC Bayern is for the future.
(To be continued…)