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How will Bayern Munich line up with Leroy Sané next season?

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The heirs to Robbery are here! But that’s not all Hansi Flick has to consider ...

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images

With the new season fast approaching, Bayern Munich fans are excited about one player in particular — Leroy Sané. Purchased from Manchester City after an excruciatingly long transfer saga, the young German gives Bayern a monstrous level of firepower on the wings, the likes of which hasn’t been seen at the club since Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were in their prime.

However, given the difference in how Man City and Bayern use their wingers, how will Hansi Flick plan to use his new acquisition? Will Sané cut in from the right-hand side of the pitch, like the previous no. 10? Or will he play as a traditional winger on the left, like he did under Pep Guardiola? Well, as far as we can tell, there are three major lineup options for the coach next season. Provided that Bayern are injury-free and Sané performs as expected, here’s how Hansi Flick could line up the team next season:

Note: For the purposes of this article, we will assume that Thiago Alcantara and David Alaba will stay at the club, and no more new signings will be made in the transfer window.

Option #1: Robbery 2.0

This is the basic pairing, a lineup that will be familiar to all Bayern fans. City watchers might be perplexed by the notion of putting Sané on the right, given that he played on the left during his entire tenure in England. However, there are a few considerations made when coming up with this lineup:

  • Sané is a natural left-footed winger, and Bayern love left-footers who can cut in and shoot on their dominant foot. A certain Dutchman was famous for this, and 24-year-old chose to take his number.
  • With Alphonso Davies on the left to provide width, Sané’s ability to stretch the field of play would be much more useful on the right. This also complements Serge Gnabry, who likes to play more centrally near the goal.
  • Sané is not known for being the most committed defender, which was allegedly a point of contention between him and Pep. Pairing him with a conservative fullback like Benjamin Pavard would provide stability in defense while not sacrificing anything in attack.

The rest of the lineup practically chooses itself, really. Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, and Alphonso Davies are irreplaceable at their positions, while guys like Benjamin Pavard are Niklas Sule are expected to make their return to the XI after injury layoffs. This might seem harsh to guys like Jerome Boateng and Lucas Hernandez, but we have to admit that the two of them are currently not first-choice players.

Meanwhile, before Kimmich moved to right-back, Hansi Flick’s preferred midfield pairing consisted of him and Leon Goretzka together in midfield. This would make Thiago the odd man out, but really he’s got a 50% chance of starting over Goretzka provided he doesn’t go to Liverpool. That’s pretty low for a guy who bossed PSG in the Champions league final, but a testament the quality Bayern currently have in the squad.

Option #2: Back to the Pep Era

This second lineup is more like something Pep Guardiola would field, and strongly resembles the Bayern Munich of the 2015/16 season. Under that system, Lewandowski and Muller were the primary scorers, with the wingers expected to supply quality service by creating overloads in the wide areas and winning 1v1 situations.

Kingsley Coman is probably the best 1v1 player on the team right now, so he beats out Serge Gnabry for this role, while Sané moves to the left so he can use his stronger foot for crossing the ball and facilitating overlaps with Davies. There’s no reason either of these players couldn’t drop to the bench for Gnabry though, given how good he is at getting the ball into the net.

In reality, it’s more appropriate to think of these lineups as “style changes” rather than personnel changes. If Flick wants Bayern to play a certain way next season, he has the tools to do it, regardless of who he puts on the pitch. Bayern’s wingers are perfectly capable of playing whichever way a modern manager might ask them to, which makes the coming season so exciting. We could see the team switch from one style to another at the drop of a hat — how great would that be?

Option #3: InSANITY

Of course, no one said that Sané is guaranteed a spot in the starting XI. I mean, Bayern Munich just won a treble — aside from maybe Messi, no player should expect to immediately break into a team like that. While people mostly assume that Coman will drop to the bench for Bayern’s shiny new no. 10, the Frenchman has a number of things going for him. He is a dedicated defender and good at pressing, while often coming in clutch during big moments for the team.

Coman’s value is demonstrated by the club’s steadfast refusal to sell him prior to Sané’s arrival, and this was before he cemented his place in the history books by scoring against PSG in the Champions League final. At the very least, Sané should expect some competition for his spot, provided injuries don’t strike too hard. Being a record transfer at Bayern Munich doesn’t guarantee anything — just look at Lucas Hernandez and Corentin Tolisso.