Bayern Munich midfielder Marcel Sabitzer has endured a tormenting and tumultuous time in Bavaria. He was acquired from RB Leipzig late, never really got going, and was shuttled between various positions in his cameos. The chorus advocating for a quick sale is growing louder. Here, some pushback: three reasons to keep the talented Austrian with a rocket of a shot.
We’ll need the depth more than ever
The December Men’s World Cup makes for an unusually congested schedule. The season starts earlier, after an already UEFA Nations League-filled June. The post-World Cup fatigue will be harder to deal with; the Rückrunde will be an extra two games, and be accompanied by the business end of both the DFB-Pokal and UEFA Champions League. In short, rotation will be needed more than ever.
Whatever you might think of Sabitzer, he’s still an experienced player, full international, and has years of demonstrated excellence in the Bundesliga. So far this transfer window, it’s three in and (likely — Robert Lewandowski) four out.
It’s true that Bayern have a lot of youth talent in midfield: Paul Wanner, Gabriel Vidović, and the newly-arrived Lovro Zvonarek, to name a few. If these players should prove ready — and that is a big if — it would be better that they have to go through Sabitzer rather than be anointed.
Bayern are a big-time team. The training grounds must be proving grounds, and this is no year to run tight to the margins.
He’s a Thomas Müller backup
Sabitzer has already been playing something akin to the Raumdeuter’s spot as an attacking midfielder in the right half-space. Of course, nobody does it quite like Müller, but this separates him from Sané and Musiala, who more typically operate in the left half-spaces.
It’s a crucial area of pitch to cover. With an eye towards the future, too: if Müller’s venerable career does wind down, Sabitzer softens the landing. And he can enable tactical adjustments that are inevitable whenever Bayern’s legendary talisman is not on the field. For now, he’s at least an ideal player to keep Müller sharp, but not threatened.
With Sabitzer as an AM, even a potential Konrad Laimer transfer (at DM) may not have bearing on his place in the squad.
Somewhere in there is still the coveted player that once lit up the Bundesliga. That’s something to bet on. A resurgent year perhaps opens doors interesting enough for both parties to conclude a move next summer. Or perhaps it earns him his place here.
The club also need not be desperate to sell. Süle, Tolisso, and likely Lewandowski are big salaries off the books, already covering the incomings.
Elite clubs like Bayern will typically have more transfer outlay than income. A Lewandowski sale should tip the scales the other way, and he might not the be the last. If anything, that points to the possibility — if not necessarily the wisdom — of further acquisitions.
It might make less sense to go buy a Sabitzer now. But he is already here, and that makes all the difference.
Let’s not be brutal, right? No player has an easy pathway to acclimate in the FC Bayern crucible. There’s value — on a human level as well as a practical one — in working patiently and giving chances rather than making a snap judgment and publicly attempting to unload players who want to stay. One more year of investment in Marcel Sabitzer has the chance to pay off, and is the most productive path forward for all parties.