What many Bayern Munich fans were fearing for the better part of the past season and a half came to fruition earlier this week. It was announced that defender Niklas Süle would definitely be leaving the club on a free transfer this summer. Prior to this being made clear from Süle himself as well as Bayern’s front office, it was understood there was still a possibility they would agree upon a contract extension, following in the same vein as Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich, with Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller, and hopefully Robert Lewandowski soon to follow suit.
Now that we know Süle will 100% be leaving, there’s an important gap to fill in Bayern’s defense even though Julian Nagelsmann still has Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Alphonso Davies, Omar Richards, and Josip Stanisic at his disposal. As it stands, Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have been the two names most heavily linked to be Süle’s replacement and even Matthias Ginter’s name has been mentioned since he’s made it clear that he will be leaving Borussia Monchengladbach along with Denis Zakaria. However, Lothar Matthäus has some slightly different ideas.
In a recent column he wrote for Sky Sports Germany (via az), Matthäus said, “There are some very interesting players in the Bundesliga. I am thinking of the Stuttgart Mavropanos, the Leipzig Gvardiol or the Bochum Bella-Kotchap. Everyone plays a really good role in the Bundesliga, would certainly be financially feasible for Bayern and could develop further under Nagelsmann.” The trio of defenders he named are all having fantastic campaigns for their respective clubs; VfB Stuttgart, RB Leipzig, and VfL Bochum. Each of the three defenders offer different things that would be beneficial for Bayern, but there are, of course, road blocks.
Much like Sule, Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol can be used as either a right back or center back, and he’s found himself on the score sheet in recent weeks for Die Roten Bullen. Of the three names Matthäus mentioned, though, Gvardiol would certainly cost the most and his current contract with Leipzig runs through 2026. It would take a lot to pry him away from Leipzig any time soon.
Konstantinos Mavropanos is currently Stuttgart’s top scorer and his loan with the Swabians from Arsenal ends this summer. He’s another option for Bayern that might be more financially feasible than Gvardiol, but he does have high injury proneness. He missed 11 matches through injury last season for Stuttgart and he’s missed 3 matches thus far this season. He’s currently valuated at roughly €16m via transfermarkt, which might be too steep for Bayern unless they’d be able to negotiate that down with Arsenal.
Bochum’s Armel Bella-Kotchap has been linked with a potential move to Udinese in Serie A, but Bochum is reluctant to let him go during the winter transfer window. A center back by trade, the Germany U21 international would certainly be the cheapest option for Bayern, but Bochum might not be open to selling him unless the buying price is right. It would be more consistent with the common model in the Bundesliga for buying low and selling high, but Bayern would really need to consider whether or not he would be a worthwhile investment with upside potential as great as Süle’s could’ve been had he been sold prior to his contract expiring, and David Alaba for that matter, as well.