Well, this is disappointing. Just a week before the Bundesliga is set to restart, former Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness has dashed hopes of a final winger being added to the squad. This means that the Bavarians will go into the new season with just three recognized wingers — Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, and Kingsley Coman — all of whom are known for having injury issues.
The former president discussed this topic (and more) on Sport1’s Doppelpass program. Here’s Spox journalist Kerry Hau’s summary of the winger issue, as described by Hoeness:
- Der von Flick geforderte vierte Flügel wird wohl nicht kommen, weil a) zu teuer und b) schnell unzufrieden wg. Konkurrenz— Kerry Hau (@kerry_hau) September 13, 2020
- #Boateng darf entscheiden, ob er bleibt: „Niemand wird ihn rausekeln.”
- #Martínez verhandelt mit mehreren Klubs: „Legen ihm keine Steine in den Weg.”
- The fourth winger demanded by Flick will probably not come because a) too expensive and b) will dissatisfied quickly because of competition.
- #Boateng may decide whether he stays: “Nobody will stop him.”
- #Martínez is negotiating with several clubs: “Won’t put any obstacles in his way.”
As you can see, there are plenty of things in the interview to digest, so let’s focus on Bayern’s winger situation for now. After negotiations with Inter Milan for the purchase of Ivan Perisic broke down, fans of the club hoped that the bosses would look elsewhere for a new backup. The coming season is set to be the most congested in recent memory, with Bayern having the added burden of the two Supercups and the Club World Cup to contend with, in addition to a truncated schedule due to the pandemic.
While the club already has three quality wingers on the roster, all of them are extremely injury prone, and they have no recognized backups. Thomas Muller has traditionally been Bayern’s go-to fourth winger for the better part of a decade now, but everyone knows that der Raumdeuter is wasted out wide. Hansi Flick has also made it clear that he sees Muller as a midfielder and not a winger, and has utilized him as such. Given how important Muller is to Hansi’s system, the coach will probably be loath to change something so drastic in the event of an injury crisis.
Alphonso Davies might be another candidate for the wide positions, but he’s not quite the same phenomenon on the wings that he is at left back. The Canadian likes to have the whole pitch in front of him so he can run into space, and moving him up the pitch means that Bayern loses his pace as a deterrent to opposition counterattacks. The Bavarians’ current system relies heavily on a Davies-like player at fullback, so even though Flick has Lucas Hernandez and David Alaba at his disposal, lots of things would need to change in order to make Phonzie a viable option on the wings.
With all these factors in mind, you can see why Bayern fans are apprehensive about this move. Since 2013, injuries on the wing have been Bayern’s Achilles Heel, especially in the Champions League. Only this year did Bayern get lucky and have adequate depth once the knockout stages came around, and it resulted in a treble. If Hansi Flick would’ve had to deal with the injuries previous Bayern managers have had, there’s no telling what could’ve happened last season.
Of course, we know that Bayern Munich are stubborn when it comes to finances. Given that the club doesn’t have a rich owner to pump in funds, that stubbornness is justified. It’s just disappointing when it gets in the way of something so important — in this case, having a proper backup winger for next season. Hopefully, Hansi Flick figures something out. If anyone can, it’s him.