Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was feeling especially talkative yesterday in Philadelphia and simultaneously addressed questions concerning the potential transfer of several of Bayern Munich’s most intriguing players. In addition to confirming that Paris Saint-Germain is in negotiations with Jerome Boateng — and that Bayern Munich is prepared to negotiate a transfer fee — Rummenigge also demolished rumors that James Rodriguez and Thiago Alcantara may soon leave the club.
With the arrival of Leon Goretzka and Renato Sanches contributing to a surfeit of midfielders on the roster, Thiago has repeatedly been targeted as a candidate for a transfer elsewhere. In most scenarios, it is his home club FC Barcelona that would be eager to snatch back their wayward son. Rummenigge, however, dismissed all such talk outright (Abendzeitung):
[Thiago] is an important player for us and we have never once articulated the thought that he should leave the club. There has never been anything to the story whatsoever.
Rummenigge further confirmed that, in addition to Thiago, James Rodriguez will also be playing in Munich this coming season, despite various (admittedly, fanciful) rumors that Real Madrid may attempt to negotiate a deal to leverage his return to Spain. Rummenigge stated,
We still have a year on his loan contract and then this clause [i.e., option to buy] for €42 million. As of today, we will activate it with a very high degree of certainty. Our relationship with him is wonderful; we are very happy with the player. He feels totally great and respected here. Accordingly, I presume that he will stay a long time.
If then both Thiago and James stay on the roster, Niko Kovac will have his hands full devising a way to satisfy an overabundance of midfielders with playing time. Presuming that Arturo Vidal will soon leave — more on that in a moment — and that Corentin Tolisso, Sebastian Rudy, and Renato Sanches remain bench players, that still leaves Thomas Müller, Leon Goretzka, and Javi Martinez all vying with Thiago and James for essentially three out of Bayern’s 10 field positions.
Regarding Arturo Vidal, Rummenigge indicated that the burden of finding a new club is on the Chilean’s shoulders. Bayern will not seek out a suitor for him:
I believe Arturo has to decide that [the question of a transfer]. He still has one year on his contract. If he wants to sign a long-term contract somewhere, he’ll take that up. We will not take action on our part. If he comes to us, we’ll look into it.
If Bayern are indeed not marketing Vidal, but instead are awaiting a deal to be negotiated by the player himself, that would appear to leave a sliver of a chance that Vidal stays against all expectations. Vidal himself, however, presumably has a major interest in signing a new contract abroad rather than potentially riding the bench under Kovac, if Kovac is not now including him in his plans.
And last but not least, the topic of Renato Sanches, currently with the team in the USA, also came up. Rummenigge reiterated the club’s confidence in the youngster and revealed that they have no intention of sending him back to Portugal on loan:
We invested a lot of money in him because we are convinced by him. He played a good role at Benfica, almost an outstanding role at the Euro 2016. His first season with us was disappointing, but we didn’t give up hope. There was no question for us of sending him to Portugal on loan. We wanted him to get his chance under Niko. Niko has gotten him into shape physically. He is now making a good impression, physically and psychologically. He’s fighting for his chance, and he’ll get it. We accordingly hope that he makes it. He’s staying with us.
Rummenigge’s comments about Sanches’s physical and psychological well-being suggest that the club has taken both sides to Sanches’s dismal spell in Swansea in earnest and are working with him to find the form that caught their eye in 2016. Sanches is undoubtedly one player to watch closely now and as the season commences.