He is one of the most divisive personalities in Bayern Munich’s front office: sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic. Since his appointment as sporting director in 2017, the former Bayern champion (BL x6, Pokal x4, UCL x1) has been the most heavily criticized of Bayern’s leaders. As he now concludes his second transfer summer window with the club, one that has fallen far short of the expectations of many fans, Brazzo gave an exclusive interview to Kicker discuss how he deals with the fierce criticism he receives and how he assesses Bayern’s transfer window.
At a recent press conference, club president Uli Hoeness vigorously defended Salihamidzic, stressing that his work is “viewed very positively” inside the club. Although the media portrays Salihamidzic as dominated by two “alpha dogs” — namely, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Hoeness himself — that is not the case internally according to Hoeness. In the midst of his defense, however, Hoeness let slip an interesting detail:
Unfortunately, [Salihamidzic] spends a lot of time on the internet. If he spent less time there, like myself, he’d be less anxious. And for that reason he got more upset than was necessary.
The stress of Salihamidzic’s job was unsurprisingly one of the main topics of the interview. Salihamidzic stressed his professionalism is dealing with the public criticism of his performance as sporting director. He said,
I’ve been involved in professional soccer for 20 years; I deal with objective criticism professionally.
Salihamidzic’s contract as sporting director expires at the end of the current season, June 30, 2020. But his future in Munich will be decided in November at the Annual General Assembly. As Hoeness indicated in the interview linked above, Salihamidzic may be promoted from Sportdirektor to Sportvorstand, a full board member on the Supervisory Board of Bayern Munich AG. The club has not had a board member responsible for sport since the departure of Matthias Sammer in 2016.
Brazzo himself would like to continue in his role at the club. He summarized his role as follows:
I carry great responsibility, can shape things, and of course I also must put up with some things. But I can deal with it; I have shown that.
I have done much, seen much, experienced much, learned much. In a word: I have grown.
The source of the latest criticism directed his way is Bayern’s protracted summer transfer window. After securing Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard long before the window officially opened, Bayern made no signings for months. Negotiations with Chelsea for star-in-the-making Callum Hudson-Odoi hit a wall — allegedly because Salihamidzic angered Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia by publicly confirming Bayern’s interest in signing him.
Meanwhile the club waited until late August for Manchester City star Leroy Sané to decide whether he wanted to come, only for the young man to suffer an ACL injury days before he probably would have been presented. Back to square one.
Salihamidzic has been fiercely criticized for both failed moves. But he defended the club’s ultimately wasted patience:
FC Bayern is used to completing its transfers early. But when the situation demands waiting longer, you have to act accordingly.
Bayern’s front office was convinced that keeping calm and holding out was the right move. Salihamidzic explained,
It was important to wait for the players that played a part in our plans, even if parts of the media and a few hardliners on the social networks grew increasingly impatient.
When the Sané transfer fell through, Salihamidzic was prepared to act. He said,
I always knew that we can react to current developments — which is exactly what happened.
And so Bayern recruited Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan and signed Philippe Coutinho on loan from FC Barcelona. Michael Cuisance completed the set on a surprise transfer from Borussia Mönchengladbach, the last of several young players acquired to develop at the club.