Bayern Munich is unquestionably one of the biggest clubs in European football. The Bavarian giants have dominated the German Bundesliga. They get whatever German international they want when they want. However, in recent years Bayern has struggled for success in Europe. By struggle, of course, I mean that they’ve made three Champions League semi-finals and one quarter-final since winning it all in 2012-13. For most clubs, that’d be seen as out of this world results. For Germany’s most storied club, it is a substantial bump in the road. Real Madrid, Barcelona, and all of England’s top dogs seemingly have more cash than ever to throw at transfers. Bayern is no pauper, but they need a big summer of their own to cement themselves back in the conversation of Champions League favorites.
Bayern’s work started, as it usually does, fairly quickly following the completion of the Bundesliga season. It began with Kingsley Coman’s loan move from Juventus being made permanent. For a bargain fee of around €21m, the pacey soon-to-be 21-year-old French winger remains as the heir apparent to Franck Ribery for the club. In a converse move, Bayern let Juventus do a similar move with much older center back Medhi Benatia. €17m was more than ample compensation making the Coman move a virtual wash for all intents and purposes.
Their in-house moves were important, Bayern’s dip into the Bundesliga market was equally necessary. So far, Hoffenheim has been the primary raid target. After finishing a surprising fourth in 2016-17, a year after hovering above the relegation zone, Hoffenheim saw two of its most solid defensive prospects move to Munich. That will be a big blow to the second best defense in Germany last year.
Central defensive midfielder Sebastian Rudy was the bigger coup in my opinion. On a free transfer, Rudy provides cover for both the back of the midfield as well as on the Bayern backline. The CDM and right back positions have been recently vacated by retirements to Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm. The versatile German international’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. His Hoffenheim counterpart, Niklas Süle, comes in as a move made more towards the future.
With what prices are being discussed for the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Kyle Walker, Süle to Bayern for €20m is highway robbery. Much more expensive advances from England have been denied in past summers. The 21-year-old is a four-year veteran of the Bundesliga grind. He knows the desperation of a relegation battle as well as the joy of European contention. He is fearless with the ball at his feet, a rare trait for a 6’5″ defender. As stated before, only Bayern had a better defense than Hoffenheim last year, and Süle was a vital part of their success. He even scored twice in 33 appearances.
With those deals done, the speculation train makes its way into the Allianz Arena station. The most scintillating of rumors thus far surrounds Alexis Sanchez. According to reports, Bayern is willing to make the electric Chilean their highest paid player in 2017-18. The proposed pay bump would be nearly £100k more than Arsenal’s offer with incentives. That and the fact the Gunners no longer have their UCL spot to hang their hat on could mean a reunion with fellow Chilean Arturo Vidal in Munich. The duo’s 2006-07 season in their native Chile for Colo-Colo put them on the world map.
Sanchez would be the biggest splash. The thought of putting a player of his pedigree in front of the recently extended Thiago has to have Bayern supporters salivating. Add in a rumored poaching of Red Bull Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg and 100 goals in 2017-18 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Nevertheless, there is more business to be at the back than in attack. Yes, I know Bayern let in just 22 domestic goals a year ago. But as I said in the opening, Bayern must look towards Europe with their buying more than in Germany.
Tottenham’s Kyle Walker would be expensive, even for Bayern, but his arrival would allow Rudy, as well as incumbent Joshua Kimmich, to focus on one role. Walker comes from England’s best defense and could step in day one. A potential swap deal involving unsettled Douglas Costa could soften the financial blow a bit. Walker could learn a great deal from new assistant coach Willy Sagnol.
There will surely be more smoke surrounding the German champions as the summer wears on. That is for certain. But if Bayern wants to propel themselves further up the European pecking order, that smoke has to eventually produce a forest fire’s worth of talent.