An unusual deadline day
After a busy day and an active transfer window, Bayern Munich has now seven new players registered in their first team. After it became clear that Callum Hudson-Odoi and Serginio Dest would not arrive in Munich, the Bayern board needed to act quickly as both Hansi Flick and his star-players demanded new signings.
Yesterday was, for me, proof that German football clubs are in financial trouble and insecurity. “German punctuality” is a real social phenomenon and one that stays true when analyzing the transfer dealings of German football clubs. Bundesliga teams often plan their squads and acquire their new signings long before the last seconds of the transfer window.
That being said, yesterday was the latest and arguably most unusual transfer deadline day in football history. The coronavirus has impacted every aspect of society, including how German football clubs acquire new signings.
What can be considered as three panic buys, Bayern bought a trio of depth pieces yesterday. Players who will most likely stay on the bench when Bayern plays Atletico Madrid in the Champions League but might get some minutes against Arminia Bielefeld at home.
While the squad needed depth, I am disappointed that Bayern did not continue to ride on the recent academy wave and instead opted for last-minute benchwarmers.
Sacrificing long-term solutions to solve short-term problems
Let’s get one thing clear: currently, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bouna Sarr, and Douglas Costa are all three more complete football players than Joshua Zirkzee, Chris Richards, and Jamal Musiala. Bayern has improved their squad depth by signing three players who will arrive in Munich as players who can fill in for Robert Lewandowski, Benjamin Pavard, and Leroy Sane/Serge Gnabry.
Cheap options that will do just fine against teams like Arminia Bielefeld or FC Köln. My problem with yesterday isn’t based on the opinion that Choupo-Moting won’t do a good job in games against lower-table sides. It is instead a worry linked with the kind of message Bayern has just sent to its youth players.
Because even though the three newly acquired players are currently better footballers, they have all reached their peak. Zirkzee, Richards, and especially Musiala will improve dramatically. Now, instead of playing from time to time in the first league, they will most likely remain in the 3. Liga with Bayern II for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.
What type of message does this send to young aspiring Bayern II players? It doesn’t matter that Richards had a solid game this weekend against Hertha BSC, or that Zirkzee has scored one goal per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga, or that Musiala recently became the youngest Bayern Munich goal-scorer of all time. When it comes down to it, Bayern will instead trust a 28-year-old right-back with no international caps or Champions League experience, a 31-year-old striker who scored six league goals in 31 games for PSG in Ligue 1, and a 30-year-old winger who has scored two league goals in the last two seasons.
I realize that Bayern Munich has higher standards than any club in Germany and that there’s hardly any room for sympathy at Säbenerstrasse. The best players play, and that’s that.
Although I would argue that Bayern sacrificed long-term solutions to solve short-term problems. The current Bayern Munich starting XI has four players which were relatively unproven before they got the chance by their respective managers: David Alaba, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich, and of course, Alphonso Davies.
The incredible rise of Alphonso Davies serves as a fantastic example of how quickly a player can develop from an unproven talent to an undisputed starter for the best team in the world. Thomas Müller had a similar kind of rise after Louis van Gaal gave him the chance in the first team in 2009, at the cost of other more established football players.
Davies’s emergence as a left-back came after Bayern was hit by an injury crisis. Who knows what would have happened if Lucas Hernandez and Nikas Süle had remained injury-free, and David Alaba remained the undisputed starter at left-back? Would Davies have had the same breakthrough?
My point is that risking short-term goals by giving youth players more first-team minutes can have extraordinary positive effects.
The Bayern board has put time, effort, and money into the Bayern campus. Bayern is going into a direction that focuses on youth development. The last two years have been incredibly successful as Bayern II has won two league campaigns in a row including winning the 3. Liga in the Amateurs’ first season back in Germany’s third division.
A loss to Hoffenheim, and my first instinct is that the Bayern board panicked. Instead of trusting the process, instead of trusting their talented academy players, they signed three players that I feel will never become good enough to become Bayern starters.
I realize that the club may have a plan that I am not visualizing or that Douglas Costa may become another x-factor in a Die Roten squad filled with attacking threats. Nevertheless, although Bayern’s squad has marginally improved, I can’t help to think at what cost.