Bayern Munich’s summer transfer window was a complete and utter roller coaster ride. There were ups, there were downs; there were twists and there were turns, but, in the end, the Bavarians walked away with a much improved squad. Below, we took a quick look at who’s in, who’s out, and what it all means.
(Note: Some of these moves were agreed in principle before for the window started, but they did not become official until the summer.)
- Former team: Hamburger SV
- Position: Forward
- Transfer details: €3 million acquisition with a contract through 2024.
- Grade: A — This was the ultimate low-risk, high-reward move of the window for Bayern Munich. Throughout the preseason, the 19-year-old showed why the Bavarians were so interested in him. However, he is going to have a bear of a time breaking into the lineup anytime soon. Arp has great potential and could develop into a player who can make an impact at striker, attacking midfield, or on either wing. The key for Arp, though, is how he handles how he’s handled. (Follow me on that?) If Arp fails to use his everyday training environment with the pros to grow and help his game evolve, this will be a wasted transfer. The biggest factor will inevitably be how motivated he remains knowing that he won’t get many chances on the field.
- Former team: FC Barcelona
- Position: Attacking midfielder / winger
- Transfer details: €8.5 million fee for a one-year loan. Bayern is rumored to have an outright purchase option for a fee €120 million, but that has been disputed by various sources.
- Grade: B+ — Another low-risk, high-reward move. Coutinho never settled at Barcelona and had fallen out of favor, which made him available immediately and for a low fee. The reason why this move is not an “A” is simply because it was a bit redundant. Thomas Müller was already providing a high level of play from the “10” and now Bayern has created what could become a combustible situation. At 27, Coutinho is not a player who needs time to develop — he’s ready to play now. If the grade was based on talent alone, Coutinho would be an “A” seven days a week, but there is far more that goes into a move than just bringing in talent.
- Former team: Borussia Mönchengladbach
- Position: Central midfielder
- Transfer details: €12 million transfer fee with a contract through 2024.
- Grade: B — Procuring Cuisance was a savvy and forward-thinking move. The 20-year-old seems to have a very aggressive style of play and a high ceiling, but will he get enough chances to use it during games? The primary issue with the acquisition is to find a way to ensure that Cuisance continues to develop while seeing little action on the pitch. Central midfield is the deepest position on the Bayern Munich roster with Müller, Coutinho, Thiago Alcantara, Leon Goretzka, Corentin Tolisso, Javi Martinez, and now Joshua Kimmich all eating up time there, regardless of whether Niko Kovac uses a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Perhaps there will be enough “rest” games on the schedule for Kovac to use Cuisance, but something tells me the allegedly volatile Frenchman might not be too happy about sitting out for extended periods.
- Former team: Atlético Madrid
- Position: Center-back / left-back
- Transfer details: €80 million with a contract through 2024.
- Grade: A — So far, so good for the 23-year-old. Hernández has slotted in nicely at center-back and also has the ability to shift out to left-back if needed. With blazing speed and an intelligent style of play, Hernández looks like exactly the type of player that Bayern Munich was aiming for when it decided to reboot its defense. It is hard to find any negatives with Hernández so far. The biggest question will always be his health, but it has not been an issue yet.
- Former team: VfB Stuttgart
- Position: Center-back / right-back
- Transfer details: €35 million with a contract through 2024.
- Grade: B — Pavard has already shown glimpses of his promise, along with a few questionable moments that recall his past inconsistency. The 23-year-old’s versatility is a huge plus for Niko Kovac, but it might be too much for Kovac to process. The coach has already bumped the best right-back in the world up to the “6” to clear some room for Pavard, which many could argue has not strengthened the team. On ability alone, Pavard is a great addition, but his grade reflects how his inclusion on the roster impacts everything else.
- Former team: Inter Milan
- Position: Winger
- Transfer details: €5 million fee for a one-year loan. There is a reported €30 million option to buy Perisic at the end of this season.
- Grade: A — Perisic was the perfect compliment for Bayern Munich’s winger tandem of Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry. A stable veteran, Perisic is not a like-for-like replacement, but a change of pace who creates his own set of problems for the opposition. When entering this window, Perisic fits the mold of the type of veteran presence that would be a fit for Kovac and Bayern Munich.
- Former team: Wellington Phoenix
- Position: Attacking midfielder
- Transfer details: €650K with a contract through 2022.
- Grade: B+ — The theme for the window was “low risk, high reward” apparently. Singh has already shown he has talent and is currently plying his trade for Bayern II. He may never make it to the first team on a consistent basis, but acquiring a talent like Singh for such a low price should pay dividends one way or another at some point. At worst, this could end up being a spot where Bayern flips Singh for a substantial profit later.
- New team: N/A
- Position: Winger
- Transfer details: Retired. It was time for Robben and Bayern to part ways at long last. Robben would have gladly continued playing, but his recurrent injuries ultimately forced him to call it a career.
- New team: Fiorentina
- Position: Winger
- Transfer details: Free transfer — Ribery is still good enough to be a starter at a club like Fiorentina and clearly still has the desire to play a major role. This was the right move for everyone.
- New team: Flamengo
- Position: Outside-back
- Transfer details: Free transfer — Like Ribery, Rafinha still had plenty to offer, but he was not going to get the same field time with Bayern Munich that he could get elsewhere. It was good to see him return home and be close to his friends and family to close out his career.
- New team: Werder Bremen
- Position: Left-back / Center-back
- Transfer details: €3.6 million — Werder Bremen exercised its purchase option after a loan stint. Friedl is a young talent and someone who has shown some promise. His departure could prove to hurt only if David Alaba opts to leave Bayern Munich, but even then the Bavarians should have a fairly easy time finding someone at Friedl’s level or better.
- New team: Borussia Dortmund
- Position: Center-back
- Transfer details: €31.5 million transfer fee with potential bonuses — The loss of Hummels is one that could resonate later in the season. The 30-year-old had plenty to offer on the pitch, but he was not interested in taking a back seat to Niklas Süle, Hernández, or Pavard. As of now, though, the Bayern defensive corps looks solid with Jerome Boateng as the fourth option (?!) at center-back. That is some terrific depth.
- New team: Real Madrid
- Position: Attacking midfielder
- Transfer details: Bayern Munich declined to exercise its purchase option on the 28-year-old, who seemed uninterested in committing to a future in Germany. Multiple reports indicated that James had created issues for Kovac last season, but the Colombian star is too talented to accept a bench role at this stage of his career anyway. While another stint with Los Blancos under Zinedine Zidane might not be ideal, there is a good chance that James could change Zidane’s opinion or even find a more permanent home elsewhere with a good showing this season.
- New team: OSC Lille
- Position: Central midfielder
- Transfer details: €20 million fee — Bayern Munich’s hand was forced a bit on this one. Sanches had multiple outbursts about wanting to leave Bavaria, often gave subpar performances on the pitch, and had become a hassle to deal with, given he was probably the lowest-ranking central midfielder on Kovac’s depth chart. Sanches’ tenure represents a failure by both Bayern Munich and the player himself. The club failed to develop a prized asset after it made a significant investment, while the player never asserted himself enough to prove he was more worthy of being anything other than a bench player or spot starter in Bavaria. The move had to be made for the betterment of both parties. Sanches will get a chance to start fresh and prove he is a high-profile player, while Bayern Munich gets to get rid of a headache that was likely going to get worse as the season progressed.
The lost opportunities
What most people will remember about this window, however, is who Bayern Munich failed to get:
- Manchester City’s Leroy Sané and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi were two wingers closely linked to the Bavarians. And many fans expressed their disappointment and displeasure when they failed to make the move to Germany. For Sané, it was a bitter ACL injury in the final days of his courtship that created a roadblock, while Hudson-Odoi seemingly used Bayern to wrest better terms for himself from Chelsea (despite suffering an Achilles injury).
- Then there was RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, who reportedly wanted to move to Bayern Munich, only to see the club waffle on bringing him in. The 23-year-old eventually extended his deal with Die Roten Bullen and could be a major thorn in the side of Bayern for years to come.
- It would be nice to think that Bayern Munich should have proactively got out in front of Kai Havertz’s burgeoning stardom, but Bayer Leverkusen was unwilling to play ball, even if Bayern Munich offered up a nine-figure proposal. That one was simply out of Bayern’s hands. To be clear, Bayern was never going to get Havertz during this window.
- Finally, Espanyol’s Marc Roca was a player whom many Bayern Munich fans clamored for. Unfortunately for those fans, the club decided that Roca was not worth the €30 to €40 million investment that would have been needed during this window.
Overall Grade: B+
Bayern Munich made some very good moves, especially in procuring Perisic, Coutinho, Singh, and Arp for such a minimal investment. The acquisition of Cuisance was a bit puzzling, but the arrivals of Hernandez and Pavard filled needs given how versatile both players are.
To many, the move for Coutinho is a double-edged sword. Bringing in a good talent on a low-risk deal for one year is extremely appealing, but if his presence ends up making the team less effective — given how good Müller has been — then was it really a good move? We’ll undoubtedly see how it all works one way or the other in the coming months. How this particular situation pans out will likely play a role in how much longer Kovac retains his own position in Munich.
There were plenty of reasons to feel good about what Bayern Munich did, but there are factors to deduct points for how some of the aforementioned “lost opportunities” were handled. Whether it was Manchester City and Chelsea’s open criticism of Bayern’s tactics or the unceremonious way that the club handled Werner, there should be some lessons learned in Bavaria.
In the end, the team is better and deeper, and that is really all you can ask for.
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