Bayern Munich is in real jeopardy of finishing the season without any silverware for the first time since 2012 and, to make matters worse, they are also seemingly in danger of missing out on all their primary transfer targets. Several players were targeted in the last winter transfer window, but with the exception of Alphonso Davies, a move that had been finalized for some time, none of those players wound up coming to Munich, despite serious interest from almost all of the targets themselves. Bayern’s sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic, made several missteps that ultimately hurt the team for this season, and the damage could linger in the summer as well.
In the case of Benjamin Pavard, currently at VfB Stuttgart, the young World Cup winning defender would have slotted in nicely in Bayern’s back line. He was valued so highly that Salihamidzic did not hesitate to exercise his release clause of €35 million to bring him aboard. However, rather than have him join the team immediately, Salihamidzic will have to wait until the season is over.
Why couldn’t Bayern procure Pavard’s services immediately? According to Bild, Salihamidzic offended Michael Reshke, his counterpart at Stuttgart, in phone calls he made to pressure Stuttgart to sell Pavard this winter. Without knowing exactly what was said, it is hard to figure out whether Salihamidzic was unprofessional or whether Reshke was just miffed at losing a promising young talent for a mere €35 million.
Stuttgart was not the only club that took issue with Salihamidzic’s negotiating style. In the case of Callum Hudson-Odoi, it was Chelsea’s sporting director Marina Granowskaja who was offended by a press conference that Salihamidzic gave during Bayern’s winter camp in Doha, where he openly expressed interest in the young winger. According to SportBild (cf. Sport Witness) Granowskaja felt that Salihamdzic was “disrespectful” and that negotiations were “doomed from the start.” This is no doubt why, despite numerous rumors of an impending transfer and multiple offers, Chelsea simply refused to budge on selling Hudson-Odoi. Hence Bayern missed out on a promising attacking winger.
Taken separately, the incidents might seem harmless. Other transfers with other clubs that looked like sure bets have fallen apart for far sillier reasons. But to have two sporting directors at two other clubs claim take issue with Salihamidzic’s negotiating style in the same way suggests that he may be sabotaging his own work and should rethink his style.
In Stuttgart’s case, if it wasn’t for the release clause in Pavard’s contract, Bayern very well might not have been able to acquire him at all. In Chelsea’s case, it is one thing to bully smaller Bundesliga clubs into parting with valuable assets, but for a club like Chelsea, who are no minnows in the English Premier League, respect can mean everything.
It is unclear whether this disappointing transfer window will have repercussions into the summer, or whether it will affect Bayern’s title chances. But it is becoming clearer that the sometimes bullish Salihamidzic should go about a softer, more nuanced approach to negotiations with other clubs come transfer season.