At this point, it doesn’t look like there will be enough time for Bayern Munich to find a top-caliber Robert Lewandowski replacement after accepting a bid for the striker from FC Barcelona. Per Abendzeitung’s Maximilian Koch, head coach Julian Nagelsmann is instead planning on an internal solution, using Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mané as center-forwards in the Polish striker’s absence.
Bayern had been linked with a number of different striker candidates for some time, but it now looks increasingly likely like there won’t be a direct replacement signing made before the end of the transfer window next month. While Bayern is still linked with Rennes’ Mathys Tel, he’s only 17 years of age and not quite ready to replace a seasoned veteran on his own.
As far as incoming transfers, Bayern’s efforts are still centered on Juventus and Netherlands center back Matthijs de Ligt. Sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidžić was recently in Turin to negotiate a deal between the two clubs. Brazzo told journalists that felt the talks had gone well, and it certainly seems like the De Ligt topic will consume much of Bayern’s remaining attention — and resources — for this transfer window.
Mané, meanwhile, is the man of the hour after arriving in a blockbuster deal from Liverpool, and Serge Gnabry is on the verge of extending his stay in Munich. They’ll be here to usher in as well as define the next era.
A Liverpool, Mané had often been used as a center-forward to great effect by Jürgen Klopp, but they have mastered the art of the 4-3-3 formation and have been able to reach great success without a natural no. 9. It’s a system that works very well with the group they’ve got, but the dynamic has always been a bit different at Bayern, which has for so long been used to having a natural striker in the squad. Different managers at Bayern have experimented with different systems, all of which are striker-centric.
Gnabry, for both Germany and Bayern, has played as Bayern’s most advanced central attacker on numerous occasions before, but much like Mané, he’s arguably better on one of the wings and shouldn’t be relied upon as the sole striker.
The idea of having the flexibility to use both Mané and Ganbry as center-forwards interchangeably is intriguing, but the evidence on display thus far is anecdotal at best, as each player’s success at the position came in a different setup: Liverpool for Mané and Germany for Gnabry. Because of this, there’s certainly cause for concern should that be the designated solution. Nagelsmann will be under immense pressure to get it right.