Eighteen months: the timeframe when Bayern Munich bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Matthias Sammer consider opening the can of worms that is contract negotiations.
It was 18 months before Bayern decided to give Arjen Robben two more seasons, trying to squeeze every last drop of footballing talent out of their superstar winger. It was 18 months before Toni Kroos's contract expiration when Bayern began to figure out he wanted more than the club was willing to offer. It was 18 months before Bastian Schweinsteiger's itch towards the Barclays Premier League was to big to just scratch away.
Without a January transfer since 2011, Bayern use the winter break to begin the contract extension process, and boy does this cycle have some names. Past and future are colliding with this crop of players, and Bayern will have to include the direction they want to go in several of these negotiations. Here is a breakdown of where Bayern should start, as well as which parts of their future the will need to make big decisions on:
Top Priorities: Negotiations Must Commence
Mario Götze – He may not be the player Bayern expected him to be under Guardiola, but whatever promise he brought is now irrelevant. The player he is now – 23-year-old with a strong finishing ability and a good passing skill set – is worth keeping around. He showed this ceiling is still pretty high, and Bayern should still want him wearing red when he achieves his potential. Götze will want to regain his fitness first before any negotiations start, but after two-and-a-half seasons in Munich, a body of work is there for Bayern to do at least preliminary negotiations.
Kingsley Coman – As previously explained, Coman's situation is unique since he is on loan, but Bayern need to be proactive in their negotiations nonetheless. In an interview with kicker, Coman voiced his desire for Bayern to buy him, and admitted he was close to moving to Munich after his time ended with Paris Saint-Germain. Those words would seem to point in Bayern's favor, but contract negotiations are always more complicated than a player's simple desires. Performance-wise, he appears to be the real deal, which should give Bayern less pause when converting the loan to a full transfer.
Medium Priorities: Futures Needing Addressing
Holger Badstuber – The reasons for complications regarding Badstuber's contract extensions are pretty obvious. Two major injuries kept him out for nearly three seasons, which makes evaluating his future prospects incredibly tough. That said, Bayern extended his contract while he was recovering from his knee operation, possibly an attempt to keep a club-trained player in the fold. With some depth in defense and a new manager coming in, Bayern do not have a lot of time to ascertain Badstuber's place in the club.
Rafinha – Under Jupp Heynckes, one probably would not have guessed, Rafinha would not only live out his contract after his move from Genoa, but also receive a contract extension in the process. The time has once again come for Bayern to consider not only Rafinha's part in their future plans, but what their future plans at the right back position are. Matteo Darmian rumors are back in full force, a player Bayern supposedly were looking over the summer. The club needs to see if the future of right back is outside the club, and if it is, what it means for Rafinha.
Franck Ribery – The day inevitably had to come where Bayern would struggle with the decision to keep Ribéry around. He is 32 after all, and does not have the same turbo in his engine he did in Bayern's treble-winning season. He still has skills Bayern need in their team, namely his finishing and his passing ability. The approach to Ribéry's future is something Bayern do not have to do right away, but it will be a contract situation that is sitting in the back of their mind.
Arjen Robben – Though Badstuber's situation will be tough to sort out, Bayern will have a hard time considering what to do with Robben. His age would suggest Bayern should move on, but his impact on matches suggest he needs to remain a part of Bayern's plans. Like Götze, it may be wise for Robben's side of the negotiation to wait until he regains full fitness, but that will be a tougher task at his age. Bayern seem to have contingency plans in place if they decide to move on from Robben, but they will still have a tough decision on their hands when they consider their depth on the wings.
Low Priorities: Unlikely Extensions
Xabi Alonso – One may not understand Alonso's thinking for extending for just a season, but the brief nature of it suggest his future with Bayern is very short-term. Joshua Kimmich is nipping at his heals as well, and Bayern may not need Alonso as a placeholder much longer. Alonso has not been very forthcoming with how he intends to plan the rest of his footballing career, but the ultimate answer may not be something Bayern have to worry about.
Julian Green – After an unproductive year in Hamburg, Green has been very apprehensive in leaving Munich again. While teenagers Sinan Kurt and Gianluca Gaudino look elsewhere to continue their development, Green has voiced his content with remaining in Munich's squad, even though the first-team minutes are scarcer than ever. His performances have not warranted much in regards to an extended run in the first team, which could mean Green's time with Bayern could end once his contract expires.
Tom Starke – Demoted to third on the goalkeeping depth chart, Starke probably will not be in Munich for much longer. His contract expires in the summer, and playing first-team football is still an aspiration of his, he will probably not want to put his signature on another extension.