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BFW Roundtable: Was it a wise move by Bayern Munich to let Arturo Vidal go?

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Was it a good move for Bayern, and who will step up to replace him in midfield?

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The news of Arturo Vidal moving from Bayern Munich to Barcelona is still fresh on everyone’s collective mind as the 31-year old leaves Bayern after a well decorated three-year stint. The Chilean international helped the club to three consecutive Bundesliga titles, a German Cup (DFB-Pokal), and a run to this year’s Champions League semifinals. It’s time to say auf widersehen now though, as Vidal sets sail for the Catalans on a three-year deal worth approximately €30m.

With the move, here at BFW we wanted to really look at if this was a wise decision for Bayern Munich and what players in the squad will step up and fill the void left by Vidal’s departure. Bayern does have quite a few central midfielders in their pecking order, so if Niko Kovač can strike the right balance, this may just have been a stellar bit of business.

The debate: Was it a good move by Bayern to let Vidal go? AND: Who do you think is ready to step up to his role in the team?

Chuck Smith:

I don’t know if it was a good move in terms of my liking it, but it was a necessary move for this roster to achieve better balance, so therefore, yeah, it needed to be done. For all intents and purposes, Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso should both help fill the void left by Vidal, but Bayern Munich put itself into a predicament by investing in so much talent in one area. As they say, it was one of those “good problems to have,” I guess? Still, though, I think the team needs to shed one or two more players to help make this a manageable situation for Niko Kovač. I still think selling Javi Martinez and (beating a dead horse) a loan of Renato Sanches would be beneficial and also absolutely be good for Bayern to help reduce the bodies competing for time in this logjam. I really view the situation as three spots being up for grabs between Thomas Müller, Thiago Alcantara, James Rodriguez, Sebastian Rudy, Javi Martinez, Goretzka, Tolisso, and Sanches. I still can’t see a way for Kovač to keep all of these guys happy without a couple more transfer moves.

FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-BAYERN MUNICH
(L-R) Bayern Munich's German forward Thomas Mueller, Bayern Munich's Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Bayern Munich's French midfielder Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich's Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, Bayern Munich's French midfielder Corentin Tolisso and Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski arrive to warm up prior to the UEFA Champions League semi-final second-leg football match Real Madrid CF vs FC Bayern Munich in Madrid, Spain, on May 1, 2018.
Bayern Munich have quite a few midfieders to choose from...
(Photo credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Ben Erwin:

Yes. Vidal performed admirably for the Bavarians in his three seasons in Munich. He brought intensity and determination to Die Roten’s midfield engine room. His dynamism (and mohawk) would be missed if it were not for the simple fact that his replacement(s) are already on Bayern’s books.

FC Bayern Muenchen Celebrate Winning The Bundesliga
MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 15: Arturo Vidal of Bayern Muenchen celebrate winning the German Championship title on the town hall balcony at Marienplatz on May 15, 2016 in Munich, Germany
Vidal hoists the 2016 Bundesliga title in Munich
(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Corentin Tolisso has shown signs of his offensive firepower and defensive intensity in much the same role Vidal played. They even struggled playing together due to their tendency to get forward. Although Tolisso lacked some consistency last season, his development has remained on a positive trajectory. His performances in the Champions League and the World Cup have shown he is a star of the not so distant future. If he can find defensive discipline under Kovac, he has the potential to eclipse the Barcelona-bound Chilean.

Leon Goretzka also represents a potential, although more graceful, replacement. The lengthy ex-Schalke man has demonstrated his abilities in all areas of the midfield and the much-heralded signing will benefit from Vidal’s vacated minutes.

FC Bayern Muenchen Unveils New Signing Leon Goretzka Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

These two young stars will have the opportunity to claim a consistent place in the first team, injecting youth and ambition into an experienced (aging), yet hungry side.

Phillip Quinn: Would I have let Vidal go? It’s complicated. Is he a difficult-near-impossible player to replace for his play and leadership on the field? Yes. Is it worth keeping a 31-year old under contract for one more season when he would like to play elsewhere, is injury-prone, and doesn’t really want to sign a longer contract with you? Nope. I would’ve tried to move Javi Martinez, but I’m not 100% convinced there are any suitors willing to pay for his services at this point. As for who in the squad can replace Vidal, it’s going to be up to Leon Goretzka to do it. We’ll get a really good opportunity to see if he’s up for the challenge, as Vidal really performed well in his three seasons with Bayern. There’s no adjustment time at Bayern, as every game that isn’t a victory is looked at by many as a loss.

Tom Adams: Letting any valuable player go is definitely a calculated risk, but I think we have enough depth in our midfield to compensate for Vidal leaving. His 22 goals and 18 assists in 124 appearances across competitions perhaps don’t do him full justice for his overall contributions to Bayern: he’s one of the last bastions of the old-fashioned, hard-nosed type of central midfielder that has it all in his locker — passing, tackling, shooting, pace, endurance, etc. That said, at 31 years old, he’s not getting any younger, and, for that matter, he’s had his fair share of injury problems. Selling him for approximately €7m less than we paid for him in 2015 isn’t bad business at all.

Additionally, I really think that his departure paves the way toward a breakout season for Leon Goretzka, especially if Kovac continues to play Javi Martinez as the main holding midfielder.

For what it’s worth, I think both James Rodriguez and Thiago can be more effective from a slightly deeper role because they can be so clever, precise and creative with their distribution; in turn, this would (presumably) give Goretzka plenty of license to assume a more advanced role in the center of midfield (CAM). All three have the flexibility, in my opinion, to be interchangeable though, and that’s a luxury for Kovac to have. He can find the midfield system the works the best with the amount of options he has to choose from.