Over the past few days, the big news has been the constantly evolving story that Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann are closing in on a deal. The big roadblock is the price tag on Nagelsmann and how Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig can work out a fair fee.
Regardless of that though, the key will be how Nagelsmann can work with Bayern’s existing cast of characters. As we have seen in the past, a new manager does not always value the current players on the roster at Bayern Munich.
In the first post of this two-part series, we examined some players who could benefit from the change and now we look at some others who might want to start to looking for their next stop.
With Nagelsmann typically favoring a 3-4-1-2 formation, it is unclear if the coach will continue with that alignment or adapt to a standard Bayern Munich 4-2-3-1. That decision alone, will play a big role in determining what players will fit in under the new regime.
For the purposes of this exercise, we are going to assume that Nagelsmann — unlike Niko Kovac — will be given free reign to change the formation to his liking.
- Thomas Müller: Müller’s value to Bayern Munich is undeniable, but will he have a role under Nagelsmann? It would be easy to think Müller could slot in as the second striker up-top or as the attacking midfielder behind the two strikers with aplomb, but history tells us that new coaches often to not “get” Müller nor understand everything he brings to the table. In addition, with Jamal Musiala, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Kingsley Coman all without certain positions in a 3-4-1-2, Müller could once again be pushed to the backburner while a new coach tries to get Müller-esque production and performances from lesser-equipped players. If we are assessing risk, Müller’s position is certainly precarious despite his proven value to the club.
- Kingsley Coman: Coman is among the players on Bayern Munich’s “contract extension” radar, but his skill-set is more of a traditional winger than wing-back or striker. More, would the Frenchman be inclined to extend his deal with a team that will not be able to deploy him at his best position? When looking at risk once more, Coman is probably not loving the prospects for his future should Nagelsmann implement his system. Coman’s fade to his old, inconsistent form over the past few months also could give both sides a reason to hesitate on moving forward together as well should Nagelsmann be granted the power to run his own system.
- Leroy Sane: Sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic’s “white whale” could go from “wing savior” to “part-time striker” in the matter of one season. Even with his newfound commitment to tracking back and defending (and actually doing it very well), Sane is another man who might not have a true position if Nagelsmann implements his system. If we believe the worst of what we heard of Brazzo during this saga with Hansi Flick, it does not seem as if he is afraid to exert his influence over a coach. Would Brazzo be willing to let his prized transfer wallow away on the bench? Probably not.
- Serge Gnabry: Of the three wing options, Gnabry is the best-positioned to succeed under Nagelsmann. Gnabry, of course, played for Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim and was effective in playing at the top of the formation. Could Gnabry be the complimentary striker to Robert Lewandowski? It seems as if the Germany international is well-poised to do so, but he also would be losing the ability to play wing. It is unclear — as of now — if Gnabry could make the move to playing wing-back, but the feeling here is that should Nagelsmann play a 3-4-2-1, Gnabry would be limited to playing as a strike partner to Lewandowski.
- Chris Richards: The Alabama native is proving what some of us already knew — he was destined for success. While the versatile defender offers much to Bayern Munich, it seems like some chips would have to fall for there to be room for Richards on the roster. The 21-year-old has proven that he is a starting-caliber player in the Bundesliga right now, so there really is no incentive for him to go back to Munich to take on a role as a deep reserve. For Richards to re-join the roster, either Niklas Süle or Benjamin Pavard would likely have to leave Munich — which is possible. Could a longer loan at Hoffenheim be in the cards? It seems like all three parties would be amiable to that set-up, which would buy Bayern Munich a bit more time to map out what the future of its central defense will look like.
Potential Loser — Outside the Box
- Alexander Nübel: A new coach coming into a veteran team with a strong-willed captain, who never wants to come off the field could be a volatile mix — but Nagelsmann is probably too smart to fall into a trap of feuding with a player like Manuel Neuer right off the bat. Neuer is known for his stringent belief that he always needs to be on the field, which means that Nagelsmann is probably not going to want to upset that. Nübel, meanwhile, is already bitter about not getting much field time this season. For everyone’s sake, Nübel should take a loan somewhere or request to be sold. It would seem like Neuer has at least another two years left as the starter in Munich. Neuer’s contract ends in 2023.