Near the end of the transfer window, Bayern Munich found itself still greatly in need of roster depth. While many fans grew impatient in waiting for moves, sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidžić was confident in his ability to make the necessary, impactful additions thanks to the club’s “shadow team.”
Sure, it is a common practice among any club or team to have a shortlist of targets that it would like to make a move on. What was incredibly impressive is that Bayern Munich’s “shadow team” was largely kept out of the rumor mill.
Aside from Leroy Sane, who endured a saga unlike any other, and Marc Roca, who Bayern Munich closely flirted with in 2019, Bayern Munich’s major transfers seemingly came out of left field. Per Salihamidžić (as told to Sport Bild), that was all part of the plan.
“We call them shadow teams,” Salihamidžić remarked. “Bouna Sarr has been in the ‘shadow team’ for a long time in the right-back position. He used to play closer to the front (of the formation) and has the offense in his blood. His dribbles and crosses will be a lot of fun for us. He interprets his role on the defensive right side very differently than Benji (Benjamin Pavard). That gives the trainer more options.”
Again, no one is shocked about Bayern Munich having a list, but how the organization kept its interest in a player like Sarr under wraps for so long is impressive. There was no leak or indication a move for Sarr was a possibility until hours before happened.
Heck, the only person on Earth who was asking for/predicting a move for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting works at Bavarian Football Works.
For Salihamidžić, it is important to be discreet and keep his “shadow team” out of the public, but also to do enough research on potential targets to know the club would be investing in a player with the proper levels of skill, mentality, and overall investment into the team concept.
“Squad planning at this level is like a giant puzzle. We have now won the Champions League because many, almost all of the parts interlocked and matched,” Salihamidžić said. “Understanding of roles, requirement profile and character are factors that round off everything and, in addition to quality, decide on success. The secret of our triple was the team spirit. It is very important to our coach Hansi Flick that a player fits into our team. We see it just like Hansi.”
As far as Callum Hudson-Odoi goes, his place on the “shadow team” was no longer hidden given how long Bayern Munich’s previous flirtation with Chelsea lasted, but the rumored financial demands by the London-based club immediately made any transfer untenable.
“There are transfers that come to the point where you have to say: We are out immediately,” Salihamidžić said. “It is all the more important that you think about alternatives or alternative paths from the start.”
As for who is back-filling those spots on Bayern Munich’s next version of the “shadow team”, we might never find out. For the Bavarians, that is just the way they like it.