Bayern Munich’s goalkeeper situation this summer has been a whirlwind. Two players constantly linked elsewhere, one long-absent starter with continuing injury uncertainty, and a whole line of potential transfer acquisitions of varying ages and profiles.
Striker may be the team’s top need but the Bavarians sure seem to be leaving no stone unturned for a new number two #1. And maybe they’re right to.
Part of the challenge here is it’s not easy to identify exactly what exactly Bayern need. A young prospect to replace Alexander Nübel as Manuel Neuer’s successor? The younger German is still under contract, still getting sent on loan, still with an uncertain future in Bavaria. A long-term backup to replace Sven Ulreich? A veteran stopgap?
But Manuel Neuer’s uncertain injury return is the most immediate of all the issues. Bayern might need an immediate replacement.
The most recently-linked transfer window target, David Raya, is now on the verge of competing a move to Arsenal FC. Raya, valued by Brentford at £40m, is an illustration of the Gunners’ intent this year coming off a Premier League title challenge. Arsenal already have a quality young keeper in Aaron Ramsdale, but might splurge just to shore up the position — with an older, more seasoned player that could easily challenge or even unseat the incumbent.
Neuer, 37 and coming off a broken leg, is a special player that Bayern and Germany fans will hope to have a long career as a starter still left in him. But there’s no denying now that his ambitious injury recovery timeline is in jeopardy, not to mention a risk of further injury once he does take the field again that increases with age.
Yann Sommer, Neuer’s replacement, is likely to move on in search of a permanent starting gig. But anyone who replaces Sommer is a candidate to start the season. Not only that, they’re a setback away from starting perhaps as many or more games than Neuer in 2023/24. And they could begin 2024/25 entrenched in goal.
For a team with Bayern’s Champions League ambitions, what kind of price tag do you put on that? €20m? €30m? It starts to sound not so bananas.
Arsenal’s apparent desire to challenge Ramsdale, 25, after two seasons as their #1 may also be instructive. Valencia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili (22) might not be ready for prime time compared to the likes of Sevilla’s Yassine Bounou (32) or Juventus’ Wojciech Szczęsny (33). Szczęsny has denied all talk of a move away, but his own career path circles back, in a way. The Polish international was ousted at Arsenal at 25, but matured and reached a high level in Serie A over the years since.
So however Bayern move next in the goalkeeper market, they must measure carefully. And consider that it may not be wisest to sit on their hands.