Out of the blue and with no warning, Bayern Munich confirmed today that they have signed 21-year-old leftback Juan Bernat from Valencia CF in the Liga BBVA. The Spaniard made 49 appearances for the los Che last season, scoring two goals and adding 4 assists as the team made it all the way to the Europa League semi-finals. According to BILD, the transfer fee for Bernat is around €10M, notably below his buy-out clause.
Speaking at the time of the signing, Matthias Sammer praised him saying "Juan Bernat is an exceptional young player who we've been watching for a long time. He is quick, a good tackler, and has an incredible nose for goal. We're certain we've made a very good investment for the future of our team by signing [him]." It's almost impossible to disagree with that assessment. The young Spaniard has 2 seasons of full time first-team exposure for a side competing for the European places and in Europe.. He's been a full youth international at every level in Spain, most recently with the U21s. The question is probably when, not if, he gets called to take a place on the senior team.
Far from just being a leftback, Bernat also is capable of playing higher up the pitch on the left wing and would represent another tactical option during gameplay. However, the looming question is where this leaves David Alaba and Franck Ribery (also, arguably important; youth prospects Julian Green and Mitchell Weiser) as Bernat is not coming to sit on the bench and play second fiddle. While Bernat would seem to be direct competition to David Alaba, that idea also seems incredibly daft given that Alaba has been one of the best fullbacks in the world for the past two seasons. However, on the flip side of that same coin, moving Alaba forward into a more attacking midfield role would generally suit Pep Guardiola's predilection for possession and present a different option to the pace and directness of Franck Ribery. At the same time, Guardiola has used David Alaba in the center of the pitch to dictate possession alongside Philipp Lahm in his occasional 3-2-2-3 formation, so sliding into a central midfield role may also be in the cards. Which way the chips will end up falling is hard to guess, but it's clear that Bernat adds another tactical tool to Pep Guardiola's toolbag. It also spells the end of Diego Contento's time at Bayern Munich.