Despite several days of speculation, which increased after Ivica Olic injured his hip vs. Hamburg SV, FC Bayern’s board released a statement today indicating that any new signings have been ruled out. Jupp Heynckes is quoted as saying "I have complete confidence in our existing squad."
There are a few ways to look at this … first of all, it’s possible that Bayern will still make a move for a new player, and this statement is part of a negotiating ploy. IE, if we’re arguing over the price of Player X, and his current team demands € 20 million Euro under the belief that Bayern really wants and needs that player, Bayern’s management could be trying to bully the other into coming down on price.
But, aside from that possibility, we should accept the likelihood that we’re done buying players for now. I don’t think this is a disaster, in that our overall talent level is high. The main problem we have now is depth - an especially big concern for a team with several injury-prone players.
Let’s start at the beginning: currently, our starting line-up (in big games, at least) would look like this:
So, if we were to target another addition (either in this transfer season, or this coming January) our needs would look like this, by position:
Defensively, van Buyten is the first sub/back-up in the middle, and Contento would be the first sub at either corner. As we saw yesterday, Boateng can play fullback as well. I don’t see any need to get someone new here - our fullbacks are among the best in the world, and Badtuber and Boateng are getting the job done at the CB spots. Now, you could say “they haven’t faced anyone great yet, they could end up being poor.” This is true, but they could also end up being great. Both are young and ostensibly getting better, and they’ve done well against Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg and Hamburg, three teams that aren’t completely toothless. I think the defense has earned the right to play with the guys we have for now. If they start to screw up, we can look for a new CB in January.
At the midfield level, Tymoschuk is currently the first substitute (and occasional starter). If he stays, I think he’s good in that role. He’s got a good motor and pairs well with Bastian (though his tackling could improve). But if we sell Tymoschuk, we’re suddenly very thin here - Kroos and Alaba can play here if they must, but both might be better suited at a more forward position. For this reason, I think the Tymo sale won’t happen - if Nerlinger and Hoeness know that they would have to buy a new player as soon as they sold one, they might as well keep the guy they already have. So my money is on Tymo sticking around. If he does, I don’t see the need to chase anyone new.
On the wings, we get to a more difficult question. Ribery and Robben are both very dangerous, and effective players when they’re healthy. The relevant questions are as follows: (1) how likely are they to suffer a serious injury, such as a broken leg or a torn ligament or tendon; (2) even without a serious injury, are they likely to miss time or be effective due to fatigue and small, nagging injuries; and (3) what is our current plan to replace them. And the answers to those questions, in order: (1) very likely; (2) incredibly likely; and (3) a very crappy one.
When one of the two wingers is hurt, our current plan is to play Kroos at the CAM/second-striker spot and move Müller to the wing. This is a downgrade on two levels: Müller’s skill-set is perfect for playing from that 10-spot (precise passer, good vision, very patient), and we lose a lot of what he brings to the table. Also, Müller is not as great from the wings as either Robben or Ribery, because he doesn’t have the same quick-dribbling abilities. So, in short, we have a very likely scenario - Robben or Ribery missing a match - met with a relatively poor solution - moving Müller to the wing, which results in a loss of effectiveness at two positions.
So, if we were to buy a new player (either now, or in January), it seems like someone who could play on the wing would be a good bet.
I know a lot of Bayern fans disagree here, but I’m going to get on the record as saying we don’t need a new striker. Gomez scored again yesterday, and has looked solid over the past two games. It’s true that he doesn’t have the ball skills of some of the rest of the world’s best strikers, and that he benefits from having good players at the rest of the forward positions. But if he can score 20 goals this season in the BL and we can get better production from the wing spots, we’re in good shape offensively.
Petersen is good enough to serve as back-up during Olic’s absence, and Müller can serve as the lead striker if he has to. So, we have the following combinations of lead striker / second striker pairings:
Gomez / Müller
Petersen / Müller
Müller / Kroos (<-- this should be tried more often, IMO)
Gomez / Kroos
Peterseon / Kroos
This is just for the next 2 months, as Olic will probably be back by Halloween. If we bring in another star striker, we basically have to send Petersen down to Bayern II or loan him out. Already, he’s probably not getting as much game action as he should be.
Once again, Kroos is the great unknown. At times over the past summer, both in preseason games for Bayern and for the German team, Kroos looked like an excellent talent who could score, pass and run the field effectively. Since the beginning of the season, he hasn’t shown much. Can he ever be more than a low-voltage version of Müller? If not, that big contract extension he received last year won’t be paying us any dividends.
Champions League Group Stage draw is tomorrow, we’ll be live-blogging that. Subscribe to our twitter feed at http://twitter.com/bayern_offside to get the draw as soon as it’s announced.