When Niko Kovač took over at Bayern Munich last summer, there were many whispers that the former Eintracht Frankfurt coach wanted to being in ferocious Croatian winger Ante Rebić to bolster the squad.
The duo’s relationship and familiarity made the connection sensible and, given Bayern’s need to implement a “Post Robbery” plan, all of the pieces seemed to fall into place. Rebić’s stock soared after a strong finish to his Bundesliga season and a very formidable showing in the World Cup. Bayern’s front office, however, remained unimpressed. Ultimately, the Bayern bosses had a different idea on how to proceed per a report by Bild.
Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Bruno Hübner has revealed that Ante Rebić wanted to pair up with Niko Kovač at Bayern Munich. Rebić scored twice against Bayern in the DFB Pokal final before shining for Croatia at the World Cup, leading to intense transfer speculation.
What wasn’t speculated about Ante Rebic this summer! England, Spain, France — after his outstanding performances at the World Cup, everyone in Frankfurt anticipated that the Croation would transfer to a top European club. But the forward extended with Eintracht until 2022. Not least because his ideal club had no interest in him.
Kovač and Rebić are said to have a close relationship, which was confirmed by Hübner:
This summer it definitely was Ante’s dream to go to Bayern with his mentor Niko Kovač.
Even with interest from a number of top-tier clubs, Rebić had one focus and wanted to continue his working relationship with Kovač as Hübner told Sport1 (via Onefootball.com):
He knows that the Bundesliga is right for him. In Italy, things didn’t work, and in Spain there are only a few really interesting clubs. Ante was always considered a great talent who never really got the job done. This changed under Kovač. They were very close.
It was not just Rebić that Bayern’s front office rejected
Before the beginning of the season, Kovač had urged the club internally to move on Frankfurt forward Ante Rebic (25) and Hoffenheim’s Kevin Vogt (27). But both players were rejected outright on the part of the club. The reason: not fit for Bayern.
With Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Niklas Süle already in the fold and Javi Martinez able to shift back — and youngsters Lars Lukas Mai and Chris Richards on campus — it might be assumed that the Bayern front office viewed Vogt as a luxury purchase. But Bayern seems to have rejected Rebić and Vogt outright as beneath Bayern’s standards.
Outright rejection by Bayern’s front office is a little shocking in Rebić’s case. His pace and tenacity would have potentially suited the squad very well indeed. When Kingsley Coman went down injured yet again, Bayern’s lack of depth on the wings became an instant sore point for many fans, who have become increasingly critical of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. While the merit of such criticism can be debated (both players have had periods of very good play), identifying a long-term solution on the wing is something Bayern needs to address.
As for Vogt, the case is a little more clear. Bayern has depth at the position (as of now) and Kovač has enough trouble keeping the three-headed monster of Süle, Hummels, and Boateng happy, not to mention Martinez, whose time as a defensive midfielder has increasingly been seized by Thiago Alcantara and Renato Sanches. If Kovač hoped Vogt might bolster the roster at center-back to permit a 3-5-2 system, the club clearly was not interested.