So, with the European Championships afoot, we've been a little remiss in tracking the transfer season drama. But, the good news is, FC Bayern has been hard at work. In addition to replacing Nerlinger as Sporting Director, the club has already agreed to deal with several new players. Some of these guys are likely to get a lot of action this year, others are just low-rotation and back-up guys, but all will help to fill the club's need for depth. Follow along as we analyze our new players.Xherdan Shaqiri - the first guy on board, and also the one I'm most excited about (we actually reached a deal here back in the winter, but he played out the rest of the year with his Swiss side, FC Basel). Shaqiri is young (he'll turn 21 in October), he has speed, he moves laterally very well, and he seems to play well in big games. He had 2 assists in Basel's famous win over Manchester United last year.
I do think, though, that it would be a mistake to expect Shaqiri to come in and set the Bundesliga on fire right away. Most of his experience is against very mediocre sides - not awful, because there are a few good players in Switzerland, but certainly a few levels below the defenses he'll see with us. He's going to have to develop his repertoire of moves and he'll need to learn to move off the ball. But, as a back-up and understudy to the oft-injured Ribery and Robben, I think the club did a really good job with this move.
Dante Bonfom Costa Santos - a slightly more debatable move. I have no doubt that he can competently play CB, but it's questionable whether he can crack his way into the starting line-up. Our back 4 of Alaba - Basdstuber - Boateng - Lahm was working pretty well at the end of last year, so I don't think there will be any hurry to move Dante into one of those CB spots. So, if he's going to be a back-up rotation guy, it's more a question of whether he's better than van Buyten (who actually played well at times last year).
My hope is that this wasn't just a "let's f*ck with 'Gladbach to keep them in their place" move. But, given the likelihood of injury, and the fact that Boateng might be playing some RB, I guess it's good to have Dante on board, too.
Claudio Pizarro - this move confused me a bit. I tried to talk myself into it, but the more I think about it, the worse it seems. First of all, always thought he was Italian. Apparently not. Second, I was a serious Bayern fan for only a single year of Pizarro's last run with Bayern, and he never really impressed me. But his numbers from the last 4 years with Bremen look very respectable, so he still has legs and still has a little scoring touch.
My bigger problem is that I wanted someone who could really challenge Gomez, in the sense of threatening to replace him, rather then just be a back-up (actually, I wanted more than that, but no need to start a fight early in the morning). I don't know how productive Pizarro can be in limited minutes, especially now that he's going to be sharing time with ...
Mario Mandzukic - a slightly better option than Pizarro, in my opinion, because he's a little more mobile and can score with his head. He led VfL in both goals and assists last year (with 12 and 8) and helped them finish a respectable 8th in the Bundesliga. He plays well against good defenses - he didn't tally vs. Bayern last year, but he had both goals in a 2-1 upset win over Schalke and also notched goals against both Dortmund and Leverkusen. He seems to both draw and commit a lot of fouls. Although he's younger than Pizarro, he's not THAT much younger, so it's not a Shaqiri-style "bring him in slow and let him play Pokal games" kind of thing.
Anyway, he looked good in the recent European Championships, which I think might be the extent of scouting Bayern really did on him. Whatever. As long as he's not going to snarl and complain about seeing a lot of the bench, maybe he can provide some instant offense late in games.
Tom Starke - new back-up for Neuer. I actually think this is a pretty solid move. Starke has never been a star, but he was pretty capable last year for a Hoffenheim club that didn't have a stellar defense. If Neuer misses a long stretch of time, we're probably in trouble. But if he needs to miss a game or two, especially late in the season when we're playing in multiple competitions, I trust Starke to stand in and do a decent job. By the way, congratulations to Butt on a great career and a well-earned retirement.
Share your thoughts on the new players below. Some of these guys I've seen play numerous times, but others I'm only vaguely familiar with, so definitely fill us in on anything missing. Thanks for reading.