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Explaining the whirlwind of Timothy Tillman to Barcelona transfer rumors

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Transfers and frees and Barcelona, oh my

England U17 v Germany U17 - U17s International Friendly Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Bayern Munich has suddenly found itself in the middle of a transfer inquest over an 18-year-old academy product. Timothy Tillman is the subject of much interest from FC Barcelona with the Catalans reportedly laying down a heavy effort to convince the German/American to join this summer. It’s a story about a player that has erupted out of nowhere.

The Tillman saga starts with his inclusion in Carlo Ancelotti’s winter camp in Doha following a strong fall showing for the Bayern U19’s. This comes two years after Tillman made a €500k transfer from the Greuther Fürth youth academy to Bayern. Now at the age of 18, Tillman is making his first steps toward outlining his professional career.

Enter Barcelona, stage right:

"There was an offer from Barcelona, they've observed him for months and they wanted to sign him for next season.

"Barca's plan was to let him train with the first team while playing for the B team. In two or three years he would have become a full part of the first team.

"But Bayern president Hoeness vetoed it. They are confident Timothy can become a first team player." - Sport BILD, [translation via ESPNFC]

Problem solved, right? Wrong.

Tillman’s youth contract expires this summer and Bayern Munich hasn’t secured him long term with his first professional contract. He is set to be a highly talented teenager available on free this summer. Oh, let’s mention he’s 18 again; he will soon have the unfettered choice to join any club in the world.

That means Barcelona has another bite at the apple soon and thus have been courting Tillman in recent weeks, according to MARCA. Barcelona scouts have visited Tillman in Munich. On their latest visit, Bayern Munich has reportedly set the price for any transfer of Tillman at €5M in addition to training compensation payments. How much stock you put in that tidbit of information is up to you.

At a minimum this is going to be an interesting case study going forward on the strength of the Bayern academy system. It is a system that has floundered pathetically in the last several years, failing to produce a meaningful first-team player since David Alaba. Does the prospect of first-team training and then playing at Barcelona B, one of, if not the, premier development programs in the world heavily outweigh the Regionalliga play, loan programs, and sporadic first team callups that Bayern can offer? Is staying in Germany worth giving up on a superior development opportunity?