In our last post, we talked about Arjen Robben's latest injury flare-up. As DerTitan and others noted, the later updates were a little less dire, indicating he was pulled off with "discomfort" and he doesn't appear to have erased all of his progress over the past few weeks. Nonetheless, it's unclear to what extent we can count on Robben over the rest of this season. Even though our make-shift forward line (Kroos in at central attacking middie, Müller slides to the right wing), we're more explosive with Müller playing in the middle right behind Gomez and Robben carving up the right flank. And with Bastian on the shelf for two months, and Kroos, Alaba or someone else likely to be pulled back into the CDM line, it's even more imperative that we have someone who can play and the wing and let Müller get back to his natural spot.
The natural solution would be to go get a wing player during the winter transfer window. This might end up happening, but there are two obstacles: first, there's still a decent chance that Robben comes back by winter and returns to something like his best form by the spring. Second, if we picked up anyone from a team that's playing in the Champions League, he's ineligible to play in Champions League matches for us. This is always the biggest and most prestigious competition, but with the final being held in the Allianz Arena, and the way we've looked in the group stages, this is our year to go for it, even more so than usual.
So, the way I see it, there are three general options for the winter transfer season. Each of these would have several specific choices, but these are just the general categories of what types of moves we could make. As always, let me know if I made a mistake or if I'm forgetting something.
(1) GO AFTER A NON-CUP-TIED PLAYER
My conception is that any player that has played in the Group State (there are 32 teams) or in the final play-in round (this would add Udinese, Twent, Rubin Kazan, and a few others) would be ineligible to play for Bayern in the Champions League. So, we'd be looking at the rosters of the clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Italy, or France that are outside CL competitions, or clubs that are way outside the top echelons of football but happen to have a fast and super-talented forward they're willing to listen to offers for.
Here's a partial list:
- Marko Marin
- Marco Reus (Manchester City is also interested)
- Niko Kranjcar (I'm surprised no one has floated this idea yet)
- Jesus Navas of Sevilla (just thought of him today - why not?)
- Miralem Pjanic (AS Roma just bought him, they certainly don't need the money, but I'd be ecstatic if we could pull this off)
- Michel Bastos (plays on the wing, as far as I know Lyon didn't play in any CL qualifying)
- Find the best RW from Corinthians, Boca Juniors, or any MLS team. But really, what's the chance any of these guys is better than Usami, who we've already banished to the bench?
The advantage here is that the guy could help us in every competition this year. If Robben has another setback, or comes back but isn't at full strength, our new pick up steps in. If Robben comes back and plays well, it would still be useful to have an extra play-maker on the wing, especially if he can work on either side. I'm sure there's someone good I'm forgetting - does Leon Best of Newcastle play wing, or just striker?
(2) BUY SOMEONE CUP-TIED AND JUST USE HIM IN BUNDESLIGA AND POKAL MATCHES
If we're willing to bite the bullet and pay full price, there are a ton of great wings out there. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to bring Mesut home at this point in time. I also don't envision Dortmund selling Gotze at this point. But between Hazard, Schurrle, Malouda, and others, there are some options that would work well in our line-up.
The problem is that, to be perfectly honest, we don't need to appear to need a lot of help in the Bundesliga. You could argue that, if Robben comes back, we could use Robben only in Champions League and rest him during domestic games. But let's be honest - couldn't we already do that, and just plug in Usami? Or even try Olic on the wing?
If you buy a guy in January, you're paying something of a premium to get the quick mid-season fix. Seems like something of a waste when he can't even help in the season's most important campaign. But, if someone like Hazard could be had for a reasonable price, this might be an option.
(3) SIT TIGHT, WAIT FOR SUMMER, AND PRAY ROBBEN HOLDS UP
If we can't find the right non-cup-tied guy, and can't get any discount on a purchase for domestic use only, we might be best to go to war with the guys we have. If Robben can get over this latest hiccup and get back to full strength, he's still one of he most explosive players in the game. I know, we say this all the time, but he showed a few flashes earlier this year.
Additionally, I'm not ready to write off Usami as someone who can't help us. From what I've seen, he has a nice first touch and he accelerates well. Obviously, he's young and inexperienced, but so was Müller two years ago when we made a run to the CL final. Plus, if Olic could refine his game a bit to play on the wing, he also has the energy and stamina to make himself dangerous.
Luckily, we don't need to make a decision yet. Over the next month, we'll see whether Robben can get back on the pitch. If not, we'll have a chance to look at Olic, Alaba, or Usami, or maybe even at entirely new formations. But if we go into January int he same circumstances we face right now, FC Bayern is going to have to make some tough choices in the January window.
I'll be in and out all week. I will try to keep an eye on the comments, but just remember - anyone who comes here to talk football, even if they say something you think is stupid or wrong, should be listened to. But if someone comes here just to troll and stir up trouble, simply ignore them. I know you guys all have enough going on in your lives that you don't need to waste time fighting with idiots on the internet. Thanks for reading.