The MSR advent calendar: Our favorite signings that never happened: Door 7 – Vincent Kompany
After more than 15 years of playing at the highest level, Vincent Kompany has just recently ended his career as an active football player. The 34-year-old can look back on great successes: He has won the English championship four times with Manchester City, the league cup just as often, and the FA cup and the English supercup twice each. In Belgium he has also won two other championship titles with RSC Anderlecht. At the time of his first championship in 2003/04, he was named Belgium’s Footballer of the Year – and consequently made it onto the scouting lists of several clubs.
These include Hamburger SV, which in the 2000s were still considered a very ambitious large club in Germany. In 2006, Hamburg signed him for a transfer fee of about €10m. It would also have been the first of two opportunities for FC Bayern to bring the central defender to Munich.
The other came in 2008, when Kompany had been able to prove his quality at HSV, but never really found his way into the team due to a substantial injury in the first year. At the age of 22 he moved to then burgeoning Manchester City in England – for a fee of €8m.
There he gradually grew into a more and more important player and became one arguably the team’s most crucial cornerstone in defense in the years to come. In 2011 he took over the captain’s armband at the sky blues. But he never managed to win an international club title.
The fact that Bayern were not interested in the young and talented Kompany in 2006 may have been because they had just bought another Belgian from HSV: Daniel van Buyten. The squad also included two other very ambitious central defenders in Lúcio and Martin Demichelis, and Valérien Ismaël was another defender in Bayern’s ranks who demanded attention due to his previous success at Werder Bremen.
Prevailing amongst such competition would probably have proved difficult for Kompany, especially since a certain Mats Hummels also seemed to be on the verge of playing Bundesliga football. It is hard to imagine that Bayern’s then coach Felix Magath would have picked the young Kompany ahead of all the others. No, Kompany at Bayern in 2006 would probably have become a disaster.
But in 2008 the situation was different. Lúcio, Demichelis and van Buyten were still in the squad, but behind them things got complicated. Two up-and-coming talents were ready for action: Holger Badstuber and Breno. The latter moved to Säbener Straße in January 2008 – for a transfer fee of €12m. Money that, in hindsight, FC Bayern might have preferred to invest in Kompany.
In comparison especially to Breno, Kompany would have supposedly been the safer bet. Even though it was not necessarily foreseeable at the time that he would make his way to the top, his talent was obvious. Adapting to FC Bayern would probably have been much easier for him than Breno, who later went down as one of the most spectacularly failed signings in club history despite his unmistakable talent.
Kompany could have in time replaced the “old men” Lúcio and van Buyten (both 30 at the time). Demichelis was also in the final stages of his career – at least at this level. For Holger Badstuber, the signing of Kompany would probably not have been a problem. Under van Gaal he started at left-back.
Looking at the squad in the 2009/10 season, it is almost a miracle that Bayern reached the Champions League final (and it took a lot of luck). For the two center-back positions there were only van Buyten, Demichelis and Badstuber, with Demichelis being replaced by Breno the following year. Luiz Gustavo and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk were emergency options. Only in 2011 did Bayern invest a little more in their defense. Jérôme Boateng came from Manchester City. But even then, Kompany would certainly have found his place.
In view of Holger Badstuber’s sad development, he might even have gone down in history as one of the best transfers ever. With fellow countryman van Buyten at his side, he would have had the perfect mentor for the first few years, and later, together with Boateng and Badstuber, he would have formed a trio that was on its way to becoming world class. Kompany would then very probably even have won the international title that has eluded him throughout his career. But FC Bayern unfortunately missed the chance to sign him and decided to go for Breno. The non-signing of Kompany for me is the biggest regret of all the non-signings Bayern have made throughout their history, that much I can say for certain – and that even though there had never been any specific rumors or speculation about him signing for the club.
Door 8 will remain on the subject of central defense. Next time we are going to talk about one of the best defenders ever. A move to FC Bayern was never even remotely on the cards, but our author Katrin would still have liked to see him in Munich.