The rumors that Lucas Hernandez might become Bayern Munich’s most expensive player ever started before Christmas last year. Hence yesterday’s announcement that a deal with Atletico Madrid had been reached was not entirely surprising. Nevertheless, after months of rumors and speculation, Lucas’s arrival puts many fans at ease and marks Bayern’s second transfer in a summer that is going to break all kinds of records.
In this article, I will evaluate the pros and cons of this signing while also predicting what this signing implies for the 2019/20 season. I will say up front that I think Lucas will succeed at Säbener Strasse, but it wouldn’t be much of an evaluation if I omitted potential cons to this signing.
1. He’s a relatively young player who has the potential to get a lot better
The main reason I believe this signing will be worth every single penny is the fact that Hernandez is such an excellent all-around defender at the young age of 23. For one and a half seasons, he has been a regular starter at Diego Simeone’s Atletico when he is injury-free. The second-most successful club from the Spanish capital has arguably enjoyed one of the best defenses in Europe over the past 5 years. Simeone prides himself on being a coach who forces his team to be well-drilled and defensively compact.
The fact that Lucas found a place in this sort of team, a team that includes great defensive players like Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, speaks volumes.
Instead of becoming a central part in Atletico’s side, a club Hernandez has been at since he was 11 years old, he has now chosen to transfer to an attacking powerhouse. At Bayern, it is very possible that Lucas will expand his game even further.
2. He’s a mobile player who excels as a center and left-back.
Despite being a natural center-back, Lucas can play on the left of the defense with just as much confidence. He played on the left when Atletico won the Europa League last season as well as in France’s title-winning campaign in Russia. Before the World Cup started, Pavard and Hernandez were two of the least known names within the French Squad. Before the tournament, Lucas had only played 5 games for his home nation. He left Russia, however, as a World Cup winner and one that played all but 40 minutes of the whole campaign.
Unsurprisingly, Lucas is not an offensive kind of left-back who loves to go forward and get assists or goals. He is hard-working and often tends to get yellow cards, but he is also extremely well-disciplined defensively, something that was shown in Russia.
1. High transfer fee = high expectations
Let’s start with the obvious one. Lucas’s transfer fee itself could be regarded as a con, as many fans — rightfully — will have very high expectations of the Marseille native. Whether this will affect his performances, is something that no one can say. However, as with any expensive transfer, the fee will automatically negate any type of leeway for bad performances.
Be that as it may, in light of the fact that we live in time when football transfer records generally do not last very long, it is highly possible that another player will become “the second-most expensive defender in the world” or even Bayern’s own most expensive transfer sooner rather than later. If that happens, it might take some of the pressure off Lucas.
2. Has battled with injuries this season
When Bayern announced the signing, they also included the worrying message that they found an injury in his right knee, which would require surgery:
“During the medical examination we found damage to the medial collateral ligament in the player’s right knee that requires a surgical repair,” said FC Bayern chief medical officer Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt. “Based on experience, Lucas Hernandez will be available for FC Bayern by the start of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season.”
This is more worrying than the first con. It is possible that Lucas’s time at Bayern could be plagued with injuries. After all, he would not be the first expensive signing this has happened to. In football, there is, unfortunately, no assurance that Lucas will not break his leg in his first game for Die Roten.
In my opinion, this is what Bayern fans should be worried about the most. I believe so mainly due to the fact that Hernandez has been injured frequently this season and that Bayern has an unwanted record of having an injury-prone squad.
3. Only been a regular starter for one full season
Lastly, Hernandez did not get regular playing time until the 2017/18 season, when he played 27 out of the 38 La Liga fixtures. This season, he has been out for significant periods of time and has played only 14 games so far.
This is a bit worrying, again considering the amount Bayern paid for him. I can remember a handful of players that had just one great season before coming to Bayern that did not succeed in the red and white colors — all of them were significantly cheaper than Lucas.
What are the implications of Hernandez’s arrival for next season?
Does this mean that we are going to sell one of our center-backs? I do believe so, and my best guess would be that that center-back is Jerome Boateng. With the arrival of Pavard and now Hernandez, Bayern currently has 5 center-backs and that is excluding Javi Martinez who can play between the full-backs, as well. It seem reasonable that one would leave.
Bayern could, however, start next season with three center-backs. Kovac regularly used three at the back with Eintracht Frankfurt frequently and we could see Bayern play in a similar way to what proved successful for Kovac at Frankfurt.
Lastly, the signing already confirms what many people already knew – it is going to be a record-breaking summer and we are only seeing the beginning of it.