You probably already know the whole contract saga going on with David Alaba and Bayern Munich — if not, you can catch up here. The latest events have divided both sides even further, however, and the Bavarians withdrew their latest contract renewal, and now, Alaba’s departure seems imminent.
This can be construed as a bad thing for Bayern Munich for a few reasons — they probably won’t get a penny when he leaves, he has been with the team since his youth days, and he is generally considered a popular teammate and an overall good guy.
All that said, I’m going to present to you a few reasons why Alaba’s departure might not be a bad thing for Bayern.
The latest dip in form
Just as the season started, it seemed that David Alaba didn’t play to his usual best. Coming off a treble-winning season, you would expect him to continue playing in his good form — but he didn’t. The warning signs were there are Alaba started showing signs of decline in the final stages of the Champions League last season. Now, the veteran has started making some minor mistakes on occasion and those miscues have jeopardized Manuel Neuer on a few occasions.
Of late, Alaba has seemingly declined even further and, at times, has become a liability for Bayern Munich’s back-line as he has often been found misplaced and a few steps behind his opponents.
Given his excellent reputation and proven record of performance, this could certainly be argued. This dip in form could have been caused by the uncertainty of the whole contract re-negotiation situation or maybe he is just tired from the clustered schedule. Still, it’s clear that his head is somewhere else and not on the pitch.
He was never that good
This is a controversial point, but hear me out. I don’t remember Alaba being consistently great. Alaba’s 2019/2020 season was probably one of his best overall seasons playing for Bayern, but even though he was very good, he was still a bit inconsistent.
Don’t get me wrong, Alaba is a good player, and I think he’s genuinely underrated, but he’s never been the leader of the defense. The Austrian did, however, blossom as a center-back — a position that probably suits him better than left-back, especially now when he’s getting older. But at 28, I’m doubtful that there is room for improvement for him — is he past his prime?
In my opinion, he is an average/slightly above average player, and his performances could be explained with statistical term statistical regression. It basically means that the very good performances are not a sign of development, but that the good performances are there as an exception, and in the long run, the performances are going to get back to the mean value.
The whole package is too expensive
Pini Zahavi demanded a salary of approximately €20 million for Alaba, which didn’t resonate well with Bayern bosses. Reportedly, agent fees were also included, which were considered unreasonably high and pushed the overall package into an amount that Bayern Munich does not want to pay.
Alaba wanted to be one of the club’s top earners and possibly surpass Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer. Does he deserve it? You could argue strongly on both sides of this, but there are a couple of problems with his demands.
First, I think it’s totally senseless to demand that kind of salary during the pandemic. Every club in the world is struggling to stay afloat and it seems misplaced for Alaba to barge into negotiations with those demands. The contract talks started way before the pandemic broke out, but Alaba insisted on those demands throughout the pandemic. The Austrian definitely deserves to be up there among the highest-paid players, but now might not be the best moment to push for such a heavy salary. This, of course, is not Alaba’s fault, but just the unfortunate state of finances in the world.
My perfect solution was that Alaba extended for an additional year, with a significant salary bonus. With another year on his contract, Alaba could be sold next summer, and therefore, Bayern would make some cash, and take the time to help Alaba find the optimal landing spot. I’m surprised that this kind of deal was never mentioned.
The second problem is that there are better players than him in Bayern Munich’s squad, such as Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, etc. And for this argument I’d like to quote Lothar Matthaus: “Muller, Neuer, and Lewandowski are, however, a bit more important and therefore above him in the salary structure. David is difficult to replace. Müller, Lewy, and Neuer cannot be replaced at all.”
This could be the root of the contract problem — Alaba is probably overestimating himself, and is likely being influenced by his agent. Alaba deserves to be one of the top earners, he deserves recognition, but his demands are just unrealistic.
There are younger and potentially better players already in the squad
This is probably one of the main reasons why Bayern’s board is not going to give in to Alaba’s demands. There are players who are younger and are currently performing better — specifically, I’m talking about Lucas Hernandez and Alphonso Davies.
Hernandez has recovered from the injury and looks better than ever. Meanwhile, Davies was heavily rested earlier season and is now, sadly, injured. Davies’ performance last season, however, was one to remember. I don’t know if Alaba ever had a season like that for Bayern Munich.
All in all, it would be a huge loss for Bayern if Alaba left the team. He’s a regular starter, even when it’s almost clear that he’ll leave Munich next year. His impact on build-up is immense, and besides that, he’s been with the club for years.
It is always sad to see such a player go. If Bayern could somehow keep him, it would be the best option, but in the end, when we take into account his wage demands, his recent form, and recent quarrels between his agent and Bayern’s board, I doubt that we will see the Austrian play for Bayern in the next season.