Bayern Munich supporters likely welcomed the news last week that Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann confirmed that Sandro Wagner wanted to move to Bayern during the winter transfer window. The 29-year-old striker wants to return to the club where he spent his youth career, as well as 2 years between both the Bayern reserves and the senior squad.
When confirming Wagner's desire to return to Munich, where his family resides, Nagelsmann was surprisingly accepting of the possibility of losing one of his best players. The Hoffenheim boss said that he's known of Wagner's wish to return to Munich for quite some time.
On the surface, it all seemed as if Bayern were going to agree on a fee of around €10 million with Hoffenheim, but they could easily up the fee given the circumstances. Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić had confidently come out and revealed that initial talks between the two clubs had been positive, specifically referencing Hoffenheim's sporting director Alexander Rosen. Fast forward one week to Bayern's annual general assembly, though, and Uli Hoeness suggested (via ESPN) that an agreeable fee between the two clubs is still "miles apart":
It's all about the transfer fee -- and I am told we are currently miles apart. At the moment it looks like our hopes have been dashed.
The contrasting tones between Hoeness and Salihamidžić, though roughly a week apart, suggest that negotiations between both clubs haven't really progressed.
It's a matter of calculated risk and investment for Bayern
A fee of €10 million is one Bayern could easily afford for a striker of Wagner's caliber, but there's a lot to consider for both parties. It's no secret that Wagner is fighting for a spot in Joachim Low's Germany squad for next summer's World Cup, coming off of a fantastic 2016/2017 campaign, scoring 12 goals and providing 4 assists across all competitions from a total of 33 appearances for Hoffenheim. So far this season, he's already found the back of the net 6 times and has provided 4 assists from 17 appearances.
Wagner would most likely play second fiddle to Robert Lewandowski, thus putting his hopes of being involved in Low's World Cup squad in severe jeopardy. Lewandowski, though, has made numerous requests for Bayern to invest in a quality striker to help him deal with the workload, and Wagner fits the bill perfectly. Injuries also seem to be mounting at an alarmingly quick rate for Bayern, with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba, Rafinha, Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez, and Juan Bernat, making quality in depth that much more important to have, specifically in the attacking department.
With the lack of genuine, wide attackers, Bayern lacked the usual verve they possess in the final third in their recent 2-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach. Without the presence of wide, attacking threats, Lewandowski looked completely isolated and Dieter Hecking's men constantly hounded him, stripping him of possession. Lewandowski's utter frustration was clearly noticeable, and grew as the match went on. When Kwasi Okyere Wriedt was brought on in the second half for his Bundesliga debut, it freed up some space for Lewandowski and he was able to get involved more in the closing stages of the match.
Jupp Heynckes is no stranger to making necessary squad rotations when it's feasible, and adding Wagner to the firing line would give him another attacking option. Even if the fee rises to somewhere close to €15 million, Hoeness, along with the rest of Bayern's front office, should really consider the value that Wagner could bring in return.
As it stands, it appears as if the proverbial ball is still in Bayern's court