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Rating five potential Bayern Munich winter transfer targets

As the January transfer window opens on Wednesday, we take a look at five players whom Bayern could go after.

FC Schalke 04 v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images

The annual winter break is in full swing! While it is dreary and stagnant for the fans, it gives the teams a much needed rest and recuperation period as well as time and opportunities to tinker with the squads and prepare for the crucial second half of the season, where the intensity is upped by a few notches.

Bayern Munich has a lot of work to do in terms of preparing an injury-ridden squad to hunt down the league leaders. Despite Bayern denying any potential winter transfers, the squad could use a signing or two to increase the depth in the back-line and refresh the roster.

There have been a few players linked with the record champions, so we’ve taken the liberty to rate them based on how much they’d help the club. The ratings use the German system, where 1 is the best and 5 is the worst. In no particular order, here are five players who are in Bayern’s winter rumor bag:

Benjamin Henrichs (AS Monaco)

Spain v Germany - UEFA U-21 Championship Final Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The 22-year-old German currently plays for AS Monaco and is a versatile option that can play at either left or right fullback equally well. Possessing a keen sense of positioning, strong tackling ability, an affinity for pushing forward with the ball, and an eye for clever through passes, Henrichs is a well-rounded modern fullback.

Bayern have been rumored to go after Henrichs as depth at RB so that Joshua Kimmich can move to the midfield permanently. While Henrichs’ short passing is adequate, his long balls leave much to be desired, and both areas need improvement if he is to move to Bayern.

AS Monaco finished 17th last season in Ligue 1 and are currently in 7th place. Despite their resurgence, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince Henrichs or Monaco to make the transfer happen. Benjamin Henrichs’ current contract runs till June, 2023.

Stats per 90 minutes (Whoscored):

Tackles Won: 3.3 (75%)
Interceptions: 2.8
Clearances: 2.1
Key passes: 0.8
Dribbled Past: 1.1
Aerials Won: 2.2 (50%)
Pass Percentage: 79%

Transfer Rating: 3

João Cancelo (Manchester City)

Oxford United v Manchester City - Carabao Cup: Quarter Final Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Joao Cancelo is another player who has been linked with a winter move to Bayern. Once a highly rated prospect, the 25-year-old Portuguese right-back moved to Manchester City from Juventus in June. After starting off well in his new club, he has since been relegated to the bench for most of his time at City.

The ex-Valencia man offers a lot in attack with the ability to be part of a quick passing system to create chances or to ping dangerous balls to attackers in the box. However, his defensive output is not at the same level. Coupled with Cancelo’s lack of outrageous pace, it doesn’t help his case in a Bayern side stacked with offensive ability and in need of patching the defense.

Manchester City is currently in third place in the Premier League, 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool. Since Liverpool still has a game in hand, the title-race seems all but lost to the Citizens, leaving only the Champions league to play for. Cancelo is contracted to City until 2025, which makes it possible for Bayern to get him on a loan and test him out, which is what the rumor mills claim.

Stats per 90 minutes(Whoscored):

Tackles Won: 2.4 (68.5%)
Interceptions: 1.9
Clearances: 1.8
Key passes: 1.2
Dribbled Past: 1
Aerials Won: 2.1 (52%)
Pass Percentage: 82%

Transfer rating: 4

Unai Núñez (Athletic Bilbao)

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid and Unai Nunez of Athletic Club... Photo by Legan P. Mace/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hailing from the Basque region of Spain, 22-year-old Unai Núñez plays as a center-back for Athletic Club Bilbao. Having made a total of 54 appearances in the Spanish top flight, Núñez’s quality has drawn interest from across Europe.

Robust in defense, strong in the air, confident on the ball, and possessing good passing ability, he ticks most if not all of the requirements to excel in central defense. The current injury crisis at Bayern along with the possible departure of Jerome Boateng would make a move for Núñez a sensible one.

Bilbao are currently seventh in La Liga. Given that Núñez has started only once for the Basque club, a move to Bayern wouldn’t require a lot of convincing. His rumored €30 million release clause coupled with the option to add Javi Martinez to bring the price down to about €10 million would make this a shrewd transfer that is typical of Bayern.

Stats per 90 minutes(Whoscored):

Tackles Won: 1.9 (83%)
Interceptions: 1.9
Clearances: 4.8
Shots Blocked: 0.9
Dribbled Past: 0.5
Aerials Won: 2.6 (62%)
Pass Percentage: 83%

Transfer Rating: 3

Niklas Stark (Hertha Berlin)

Hertha BSC - RB Leipzig Photo by Andreas Gora/picture alliance via Getty Images

Capable of playing as a defensive midfielder or a center-back, Niklas Stark is one who has long been on Bayern’s radar. The 24-year-old German could be the long-term successor to Javi Martinez and take up the mantle of the midfield destroyer. Stark is commanding in the air, possesses a no-nonsense approach to tackles, has great distribution and intelligent positioning — qualities that would make him a worthy inclusion to the Bayern squad.

The German is contracted to Hertha Berlin until 2022. His release clause of €25 million supposedly expired in June, and any interested club will have to negotiate with Hertha for a transfer to happen. With the Berliners currently twelfth in the Bundesliga, the opportunity to play for Germany’s biggest side and the Champions League would be a no-brainer for Stark, leaving the interest of the Bayern brass the most important part of this transfer.

Stats per 90 minutes(Whoscored):

Tackles Won: 2.1 (75%)
Interceptions: 1.8
Clearances: 4.6
Shots Blocked: 0.8
Dribbled Past: 0.7
Aerials Won: 2.5 (57%)

Pass Percentage: 83%

Transfer Rating: 2

Leroy Sané (Manchester City)

Germany v Estonia - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Ah, Leroy Sané! Pacey, German, world class! The signing the Bayern bosses, fans, and team members want! The 23-year-old would have been wearing the Munich red and set to fly to Doha to prepare for the Rückrunde had ex-Bayern coach Pep Guardiola not decided to play spoilsport and start Sané in a glorified friendly against Liverpool.

Barely 10 minutes into the FA Community Shield, Sané went down clutching his leg in what was later diagnosed as a horrific ACL tear. The injury put the move on hold and Bayern has since been keeping a close watch on Sané’s health.

Leroy Sané possesses incredible talent, blistering pace, and is lethal in the final third. It is a highly potent mix and is what makes him a world-class winger suited to sides like Bayern, that love playing through their wings. Sané has 18 months left in his contract with Manchester City and is said to be keen to join the Bayern ranks in January.

Though the Bavarians have decided to lie low in the January transfer window, this is one move they must conclude before Sané changes his mind and signs a contract extension. He is the sort of generational talent that warrants the extra €30-40 million that Bayern may be forced to pay despite the little time left on his contract.

Stats per 90 minutes(Whoscored):

Shots: 2.4
Goals: 0.4
Assists: 0.3
Key Passes: 1.7
Successful Dribbles: 3.2 (53%)
Pass Percentage: 82%

Transfer Rating: 1

While the Bayern bosses may deny it, there are still quality options out there for the picking in the January transfer window. The squad is thin: the club had only 11 senior outfield players available (10 after Javi Martinez got injured during the game) against Wolfsburg at the end of the Hinrunde. Liverpool purchased Virgil van Dijk in the January window, and it helped them make the UCL final that year. A mid-season reinforcement for Bayern couldn’t hurt the team’s chances.

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