It’s pretty much official: Benjamin Pavard will leave Bayern Munich. Whether it’s this summer (preferably) or the next (not preferably), Pavard sees his future elsewhere, specifically in the blue and black of Internazionale Milan. With a fee of approximately €30 million fixed and €3 million in add-ons floating around, this will give Bayern ample funds to find a replacement, which they feel is crucial to the Pavard deal being completed this summer. So, who could they bring in to replace Pavard? Well I have a bit of admin to complete before I go to the options.
Our actual Pavard replacement is already at the club, and his name is Konrad Laimer. Laimer is ridiculously quick, good on the ball, a great crosser, and works intensely in every match. Does this sound like one of Bayern’s recent transfer targets? A certain Kyle Walker perhaps? Yes, I posit that Bayern should look to play Laimer as a right back whenever Noussair Mazraoui is unfit to play, as with Leon Goretzka back in form, Ryan Gravenberch’s future uncertain and Raphaël Guerreiro being a more than capable midfielder, Laimer may struggle to get minutes if he plays purely through the middle. The Austrian is not unfamiliar with the right back position either, as he was played in that position extensively by Julian Nagelsmann during the pair’s time together at Leipzig.
However, Pavard’s departure does still leave a hole in the defense as Pavard is a far more capable center back than he is a right back, and with Josip Stanišić out the door temporarily too, there is a need for a fourth centre back option at Bayern. Following Pavard’s profile, these players must be tenacious tacklers who aren’t afraid to go to ground, but are also extremely capable of advancing play from deep. Let’s begin.
Note: As is the nature of Mannschaft Planen, this article will not only ignore transfer rumours, but players linked with Bayern Munich will be actively avoided. The point is to present alternative options, so don’t expect Lutsharel Geertruida or Lukas Klostermann.
Stefan Posch is the first option on the list. The former Hoffenheim defender had a fantastic season at Bologna, prompting the Italian club to trigger his €5 million option to buy after a season long loan. While it may be difficult to convince Bologna to sell so quickly, it would be possible to motivate them with the interest of an instant profit on the Austrian. Furthermore, Posch would certainly be tempted to join the biggest club in Germany after spending years in the Bundesliga.
Posch is a fantastic defender, always looking for ground duels and stepping out of line to harass attackers. Posch’s passing range is impressive, with his tendency always being to progress the ball forwards. Posch is versatile too, as while he has spent the majority of his career as a center back, he just spent the last year as a right back and adapted fluidly. At 26, Posch’s best years are ahead of him too, and this would be the perfect time to purchase him. Transfermarkt values him at €14m, and I’d say Bayern could get this deal done for around that fee.
Player Quality: 8/10
Potential Price: 8/10
TOTAL: 16/20 (80%)
Lucas Martínez Quarta
Lucas Martínez Quarta is genuinely just the South American Dayot Upamecano... minus the inconsistency. Quarta has been one of the best defenders in Italy since joining Fiorentina, quickly becoming the defensive leader of the squad. Quarta’s ability to step up out of line and almost act as a defensive midfielder to mark players at times is remarkable, as he very rarely ends up leaving space behind him due to his ability to read the game seconds earlier than everyone else and track back in case somebody is trying to use the space behind him to make a run. It is this remarkable reading of the game that also translates into Quarta having one of the most impressive passing ranges of any centre back I’ve ever seen, as Quarta doesn’t have the highest volume of passes per game but he is consistently one of the most progressive and forward-thinking players.
On top of all of this, Quarta is one of the best tacklers in all of European football right now, as his ground game and even standing game is fantastic. While he is a bit shorter than Pavard at 183cm, Quarta makes up for it with a great jumping reach, and at the age of 27, he is only entering his best years now. Transfermarkt values him at around €10 million, but I would say a deal wouldn’t be done for anything below €15 million.
Player Quality: 10/10
Potential Price: 8/10
TOTAL: 18/20 (90%)
At 30-years-old, Jonathan Gradit may not have many top level years of football left in him, but the Frenchman has gone up another gear in recent seasons at RC Lens. Gradit is the centre of the defensive system that has set the base for Lens’ recent successes. Gradit is one of the best progressors of the ball in Europe, specialising in creating chances from deep using his wide range of passing as well as freakishly good dribbling for a centre back. No seriously, this guy takes on pressers and gets past them like he’s in the middle of the park and not the last man. While this may sound like a mistake waiting to happen, Gradit is a very smart player, as he picks his moments to dribble very well, having a high successful take-on rate. While Gradit isn’t an active ball-winner, his tackling is still powerful and would complement his centre back cohorts better than getting a like-for-like profile for Pavard would.
Transfermarkt values Gradit at €5m, and I think Bayern could get it done at worst for around €8m.
Player Quality: 9/10
Potential Price: 9/10
TOTAL: 18/20 (90%)
What do you think of our picks? Is there anyone else you would have brought in the conversation? Let us know in the discussion below.