At the time of writing this article, it is now the second of January, and Bayern Munich have yet to announce the signing of Lucas Hernandez like Marca said they would. In truth, the likelihood of a January transfer was put in doubt almost immediately, as reports emerged that the Bavarians would not pay the player’s release clause in the winter. The dream of lining up against Liverpool with a Sule-Hernandez pairing seems to fading fast.
Now that Christian Pulisic has confirmed his move to Chelsea, it seems like a good time to talk about Bayern’s transfer strategy in this January window. While the bosses — mainly sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic — did not categorically promise winter reinforcements, they did hint strongly that some moves would be made.
Backpedaling on that would be the wrong decision, and if the Bavarians indeed do so, it could be devastating for the remainder of this season. I’ve already covered the bosses’ reasons for not going through with the transfer earlier in a separate article. Since then, the situation has changed slightly. So, without further ado, here are the reasons why, by not signing Lucas Hernandez, Bayern Munich are making a big mistake right now:
#1: Niko Kovac is in desperate need of defensive reinforcements
Bayern Munich have only three fullbacks — one left-back and two right-backs. If David Alaba gets injured, we are forced to play Rafinha out of position at left-back. If Joshua Kimmich gets injured, Rafinha has to do the same, just not out of position. Rafinha isn’t a problem — he’s a quality player. However, this is an extremely reckless approach to depth.
Two injuries, and Bayern will be out of healthy first-team fullbacks. If they’re long-term injuries, we can kiss our Bundesliga and Champions League hopes goodbye. Practically every team in the Bundesliga has good-to-decent wide players that can punish a weakness on the flanks, while the likes of Jadon Sancho and Mohamed Salah would eat us alive without a proper fullback.
It’s the same story at center-back. Bayern has only three natural center-backs, and two of them — Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng — are injury prone and regularly miss key minutes in the second half of the season. If both of them get injured, then we’re down to Javi Martinez at center-back, and that would be a disaster. Kovac relies on his defenders to be quick and dynamic while defending — Martinez can’t do any of that.
With our injury record, it’s absolutely ridiculous that Bayern are gambling on players actually staying fit for the key games in the second half. We should have learnt our lesson in 2015/16, when we faced Barcelona without a single fit winger.
Buying Lucas Hernandez would fix both of these depth issues immediately — he can be a backup for Alaba and a starter at center-back. It could mean the difference between a league title/Champions League semi, or an early exit in both competitions.
#2: Hernandez fits Kovac’s system perfectly
Lucas Hernandez is physical, strong, athletic, and most importantly — extremely quick, especially for a defender. Niko Kovac’s system relies on the mobility of the central defenders to snuff out attacks, and it’s very effective with the right personnel. Niklas Sule is already a perfect fit, he just needs a proper partner.
Hernandez is that missing piece of the puzzle. As a partner to Sule, he can be that final component that allows Bayern Munich to clamp down on the opposition in a way we haven’t done in over five years. In a way, he can be Javi Martinez 2.0.
Jupp needed Javi to partner with Bastian Schweinsteiger and give the Bavarians the defensive edge we’d been lacking. He’s arguably the single most effective transfer of the decade for us, because it directly resulted in a treble. He was also extremely overpriced — at 40m, the board had to swallow some pride and take the plunge. In hindsight, it was the right decision.
Hernandez can be that kind of transfer. At 80m, his fee is waaaaaaay out of our comfort zone, and it must be tempting to push the transfer into the summer in exchange for a discount. While it might free up some cash to use elsewhere, this season demands our attention. Hernandez’s value to this team for the next six months would be worth more than any discount.
#3: His knee injury is almost better
One of the main concerns brought up when discussing Hernandez is his knee injury. Initially, we were told that he’d be out until the end of February at the earliest, so he would miss Bayern’s winter training camp and probably wouldn’t be ready to feature against Liverpool in Anfield.
Now, a report from Marca says that Hernandez is already back in individual training on the pitch. He’s unlikely to feature against Sevilla in the weekend, but if Bayern buy him, he should be ready by the time the Bundesliga restarts on the 19th of January.
With the knee injury out of the way, one of the main reasons for postponing the transfer ceases to be an issue.
#4: Competing interest from other clubs
Manchester United have been interested in Lucas Hernandez for a long time, and they’re not the only ones. There are plenty of top clubs around Europe who would love to have the Frenchman on their team, and many of them can challenge or even out-bid Bayern for his signature.
If Hernandez were German, this probably wouldn’t be a problem. Most Germans see Bayern as a destination club, and they’re willing to forego slightly higher wages elsewhere to stay inside the country and make headway in the National Team. Niklas Sule is a good example — the Londoners offered him a higher salary and a better deal, but he turned them down for the sake of his career.
There’s no reason why Lucas Hernandez would do the same. All the reports indicate that he is drawn to Bayern’s bumper salary offer, which is more than three times what he makes at Atletico Madrid. The thing is, that’s just money, and there are plenty of clubs that can match it. Hernandez could still choose us because of our sporting project — but how long would it be before PSG or United offer him quadruple or quintuple his current salary? Would Hernandez still choose Bayern in that case?
In the end, it’s never a good idea to let a player sit on an offer for two long. In several cases, it might work out — as seen in the transfers of Leon Goretzka and Robert Lewandowski. However, both of those players already had their hearts set on joining Bayern. There’s no indication that the Hernandez deal exists in a similar situation.
In the search for the best deal, we must never lose sight of who we are. Bayern Munich are supposed to strive toward victories — the financial prudence, the solid risk management, they’re all the means towards a goal, not the goal itself. By waiting to sign Lucas Hernandez, we put our season, and by extension, our reputation as a top club in jeopardy.
Hopefully, in the next few days, we get some good news. Until then, we’ll just have to hope that we get lucky.
You’ve read both sides of the argument, what do you think?
This poll is closed
Yes, we should sign Hernandez ASAP.
No, his impact this season would be minuscule and we can get a better deal in the summer.