David Alaba remains one of the biggest loose ends in Bayern Munich’s ongoing effort to commit its veteran core to contract extensions. Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer have extended. Thiago appears to be about to sign his own extension, but progress with Alaba has been slow — initially because his new agent Pini Zahavi was confined to Israel because of the coronavirus pandemic.
After Bayern beat Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday, Alaba himself was in no mood to talk transfers. He told Sky (via Bild): “I’m trying to keep my focus on what’s essential, on games. In the last few weeks, I have focused completely on training and games.”
Sky followed up by asking whether there was any deadline for a decision whether to extend his contract. Alaba’s answer, “No. The coming weeks will definitely reveal how things develop. As I said, everything is quiet...”
Under new head coach Hansi Flick, Alaba has moved from left-back, where he largely has played since 2011, to center-back to make way for Alphonso Davies. Alaba has been outstanding at center-back, but is that where he wants to play? Alaba’s preference is for the position he plays for Austria, central midfielder, but a succession of other players have held that role in his place, from Javi Martinez, Xabi Alonso, Thiago, to Joshua Kimmich, his own erstwhile counter-part at right-back.
At center-back, Alaba has at least taken full advantages of the long-range play-making the position offers:
Bayern executive Oliver Kahn briefly discussed Alaba’s situation, but his comments did not suggest that Alaba necessarily shared Bayern’s enthusiasm (Bild):
“Alaba has undergone a development in the past few months as a boss. The way he now vocally leads the team — we are all very, very satisfied with him. Alaba has played for FC Bayern Munich for a very, very long time. Thiago is also in his 7th year. Of course they also sometimes think about their options. But I think we, FC Bayern, have very, very good arguments, if you look at that in the European context, that the players know what they have in us.”
Bild reports that Real Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane “could imagine [Alaba] on his team.] Alaba’s wages, not to mention whatever transfer fee Bayern would ask, would be difficult to match. Since Bayern’s front office knows this as well, they do not feel under pressure.
To venture my own opinion, whereas I have always felt that Thiago, for example, will stay in Munich, I think Alaba really might decide to try something new. The situation is a little too cool on both sides. Could Alaba take his young family on an adventure to Spain before his daughter starts school? Perhaps. The decision he is facing is about where to play the last years of his prime. Does he want to stay in Munich forever? He may know what he has in the club, but it’s the conservative choice. I’m not so sure Alaba would turn down the chance to replace Marcelo at Real Madrid, for instance, if they make him the right offer.