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Opinion: What transfer approach will Bayern Munich take this summer in replacing Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben?

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BFW’s Marcus Iredahl offers his own opinion on how legends should be replaced while evaluating three potential transfer strategies.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

The recent transfer news that Leroy Sané might swap his azure-blue jersey for red and white has made Bayern Munich fans hopeful of signing yet another talent to the squad. The rumor also sheds light on an interesting question: how will Bayern approach the summer transfer window?

The year 2019 has seen the Bavarian club sign two players so far: Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez. Hernandez, the bigger signing, comes from the bigger team. In late March, Atletico’s Hernandez became Bayern’s record transfer signing by a large distance.

Both of the signings have three things in common:

  1. They both are young players who, if all goes well, can improve their standard and develop into world-class players.
  2. They both had their break-through in 2018.
  3. They are both defenders.

Considering Bayern is in the midst of reconstructing the squad, it will be interesting to see if this pattern of signing young players who can develop into some of the best at their position will continue.

This article will examine the different approaches Bayern might take when trying to replace a combined 182 Bundesliga goals. I will outline three different approaches available and elaborate my two cents on how these legends should be replaced. I’ll state up front that not all the players mentioned on this list are necessarily wingers: it is very possible that Kovac might change Bayern’s style of play.

Approach number 1: buying domestic talent

The major difference between the signing of Pavard and Hernandez is not just their price, but also the fact that Bayern’s signing of Pavard extends the familiar trend of buying players from within the Bundesliga.

While voices outside Munich blame Bayern’s signings from domestic rivals as one of the main reasons why the Bundesliga has recently become a “one-team league,” from a Bayern perspective it makes a whole lot of sense. Going to Bayern is a dream for great many German football players, which often means that Bayern can get them cheaper than players from foreign leagues. Signing a Bundesliga player also means that Bayern will get a player who already knows the league, which is a major plus. Lastly, the fact that Bayern has such pulling power for Bundesliga players helps Bayern to compete against top clubs outside Germany.

For example, Timo Werner has been linked with many top clubs outside Germany. Recent reports, however, suggest that he is close in joining the Bavarian giants. The same goes for Kai Havertz, who has been linked with many top clubs, including Bayern. The attacking midfielder could be considered as a replacement for Robben and Ribery, as long as Muller moves to the wing.

Potential domestic signings: Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey, RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Thorgan Hazard, and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic.

My two cents: Bayern should definitively consider signing one or two Bundesliga players. It is economically advantageous, and they would get players who know what it means to play in the Bundesliga.

Approach number 2: buying foreign talent

One of my first articles here at BFW was an opinion article that outlined my doubts surrounding a potential signing of Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Buying foreign talent is, in my opinion, a big risk. That is not to say it can never work (I see you, Kingsley), but the price for such players will always be higher, and the potential danger that they might not thrive in the “dog-eat-dog” atmosphere at Säbener Strasse is always there. In January, many fans seemed content to spend up to €40 million on an individual who had played just 51 minutes in the Premier League at the time. Now, I have seen comments backing Bayern to make an €80 million bid for Nicolas Pépé, a player who has yet to play a single game in a European international competition.

Potential signings: Chelsea’s Callum Hudson Odoi, Lille’s Nicolas Pépé, Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa and SL Benfica’s João Félix.

My two cents: Of course, spending this type of money on foreign talents can be seen as a stroke of genius, provided the player in question develops into one of the best in the world. However, given the state of the transfer market, I believe the gamble is too risky at a time when Bayern needs to make sure that their spending results in the successful renewal of the squad.

Approach number 3: Buying “out of favor” stars

This approach is, in my opinion, the best way to replace legends. It is an approach that has proven successful for Bayern before. To clarify, I am not talking about buying regular starters at great clubs, players like Antoine Griezmann or Paulo Dybala. Seeing superstars of that caliber at Bayern would be great, but at a time when Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Barcelona all need to rebuild, buying established stars would mean opening the bank, and that is simply not the Bayern way.

It is easy to forget now, but Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng were both signings that were out of favor at Real Madrid and Manchester City. The Dutch experiment that Real Madrid undertook when signing Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, and Rafael Van der Vaart was basically replaced in the summer of 2009. Real Madrid chose to buy Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Karim Benzema. In 2009, Sneijder left for Inter and Robben left for Bayern. Van der Vaart left for Hamburg a year later.

Boateng was a player who was out of favor at the Etihad. Both the center-back and Robben arrived in Munich as stars who felt mishandled at their past clubs, but then advanced their careers at the Säbener Strasse.

Potential signings: Manchester City’s Leroy Sané and Riyad Mahrez, Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Isco.

My two cents: Real Madrid and Manchester City’s loss was Bayern’s gain once before, and I hope I can say the same if Leroy Sané makes a comeback to the Bundesliga. A player such as Sané would mean Bayern would not only get a player who can get better, but also an established superstar. Of course, the price for a player like Sané will break Bayern’s newly set transfer record. But, given their need to replace 182 goals, Sané could be worth it.

This is, of course, only my opinion and I want to know yours as well. Bayern may end up adapting all three approaches. No one knows what is around the corner in these exciting times.