Since leaving Bayern Munich in 2013, Emre Can has bounced around to Bayer Leverkusen, Liverpool, and now finally Juventus. While we as Bayern fans would like to believe that a player would regret moving away from such a big club, the 25-year-old has a different perspective. He shared his thoughts in a recent interview with Goal:
I still had a contract and the club wanted me to stay, but I did not really see the opportunity to play a lot back then. For me as a young player it was important to be on the pitch as often as possible. Leverkusen gave me this opportunity. Looking back, my decision to leave Bayern was the best decision for me and my career.
Anyone who remembers Can’s playing—or lack of—during his time in Munich can’t really argue that. In the 2012/13 season, he only registered 213 minutes for his side. Right after he left Bayern, however, he saw a 2,000 minute increase in his playing time the very next season for Leverkusen.
If lack of playing time is such a big issue for players in the Bayern squad, this doesn’t bode well for the future of someone like Renato Sanches. The Portuguese international has played for a total of over 600 minutes this year, but almost none of those have come in the Rückrunde. Even for someone like Jann-Fiete Arp, who is reported to join Bayern this July, the promise of drastically improved playing time could take young players away from Bayern. One could make the argument that a loan would be sufficient, but as the history of some of Bayern’s infamous loans (think Renato Sanches, Julian Green, or even Gianluca Gaudino) show, most of them don’t work out.
And apparently, playing time isn’t even negated by great success. Despite being part of Bayern’s historic treble-winning season in 2013, Can wasn’t satisfied:
I did not play a single minute back then, so I do not feel like a Champions League winner. But I know how great it feels to be there and I really want to experience it as an active part of my team this time.
Hopefully, Bayern’s upcoming youth upheaval will leave space within the ranks for players to grow, while still experiencing success in Europe. Of course a rebuild takes time, but we have reason to be optimistic heading into this phase led by Niko Kovac. If he can channel his Frankfurt-esque squad building, the sky is the limit.