Here is part II of our conversation with Raphael Honigstein. Be sure to catch his latest post on Jermaine Jones and the “Nutella Curse” at SI.com. if you missed yesterday’s part I, all you have to do is click here.
Bayern Offside: This past weekend Bayern had their trickiest remaining league match vs. ‘Gladbach, a team that also played impressively in defeat in their visit to Munich in December. Despite selling Marin, they have built up a nice core of young players such as Bradley, Dante and Reus. With Bayern inching ever closer to the glories of past years, do you think ‘Gladbach have the core talent in place to take at least a modest step toward recreating their storied past as well?
Raphael Honigstein: They do have talented players, a great stadium and a decent fan-base, but I’m not sure they have the finances to keep their talents. Marko Marin left last year, Reus might be next. A few years ago, remember, they were playing in Europe and beating the likes of Arsenal but since then they’ve gone a little backwards again. Something extra-ordinary needs to happen before they can really grow as a club. But they’ve certainly surprised me this season. I actually thought they could go down.
Bayern Offside: Martin Demichelis had arguably his best match of the season (in the 1st leg) against Lyon, an unexpected bonus. Any theories on his inconsistency? Do you think there’s credibility to the argument that the timing of his injuries combined with the winter break just haven’t allowed him to be truly 100%?
Raphael Honigstein: Well, him and Lucio never saw eye to eye for a start. You’d expect him to be improved after a car-crash of a season last year. He still suffers from lapses of concentration and can be sloppy on the ball; I’m not sure anyone will ever be able to change that. He was never the “world class defender” Rummenigge and others saw in him, merely average in Champions League terms. Might be a good idea to cash in on him, should there be any takers after the World Cup.
Bayern Offside: With the Audi stock purchase, the record sponsorship renewal, & the additional revenues from a deeper European run, many fans expect a Bayern spending spree on the transfer market this summer. But those expectations seem to run counter to Christian Nerlinger’s public comments about salary reduction and building the roster with more reliance on the youth system. Will it be business as usual or will we see something of a spendthrift approach to the transfer market from Bayern?
Raphael Honigstein: Nerlinger’s comments, to me, seemed chiefly directed at the existing players like van Bommel or van Buyten, and part of the negotiation tactic. If Bayern are smart – and that’s a big if – they will only buy one or two players in the summer – GK, CB, maybe LM if FR goes – but aim very high. The progress made by the youngsters should allow them to buy fewer but better (and more expensive) players than in the last couple of years.
Bayern Offside: Do you know if Twente’s Bryan Ruiz is on Bayern’s radar at all? My understanding is that Louis van Gaal wanted him for AZ before he left, and Ruiz seems a versatile player for LvG’s system whose stock is on the rise.
Raphael Honigstein: Honestly don’t know. I do, however, think Braafheid and Pranjic show that it’s very difficult to judge the true potential of players who do well in Holland. I could name Alves, Huntelaar, Babel and quite a few others…
Bayern Offside: Just about every young keeper in Europe has been linked with a transfer to Bayern. But doesn’t the true shortlist begin and end with Manuel Neuer? Aren’t Bayern simply willing to wait for him?
Raphael Honigstein: Schalke qualifying for the CL has made the deal less likely, for obvious reasons. In my view, they will have to look at Adler or abroad in the summer. Butt’s a liability.
Thanks again to Raphael Honigstein for joining us at the Bayern Offside! I hope to be able to bring you more expert opinions and analysis in the Countdown to Madrid!
Raphael Honigstein is the author of Englischer Fussball: A German View of Our Beautiful Game. He can be found losing his money in fantasy football at www.11kicks.com every weekend.