Going into the preseason, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola had a real conundrum on his hands. He had a strong stable of midfielders he needed to herd into the right direction. He had a mixture of veterans who demanded time and young players who needed experience, and his creativity would have really been put to the test.
Then came the news of Bastian Schweinsteiger's move to England. Losing one of Bayern's favorite sons is never easy, but it alleviates a big burden the team sheet could not support. Who benefits most from Bastian Schweinsteiger's transfer to Manchester United? While the stock of many players will rise, some players will see their stocks increase more than others.
Xabi Alonso – He benefited from Schweinsteiger's injury woes at the beginning of last season, but his role in the squad did not depend on the Fußballgott by season's end. He is the deep-lying playmaker Guardiola was looking for in his first season at Bayern, and the fact Schweinsteiger is gone does not change that. Alonso is bound to get a lot more playing time than he probably should, and that does not depend on Schweinsteiger's presence.
Philipp Lahm – Whether he was going to play on the flank or in the center of the park did not depend on what red shirt Schweinsteiger was dressing in. Guardiola would use a wrench to make sure he found room for Lahm in midfield. The captain may be different off the field without his first mate around, but his role in the squad will remain unchanged with Schweinsteiger's departure.
Thiago Alcantara – He is a player Guardiola really wants to play, and now the gaffer has an opening to make Thiago a real feature at Bayern. Did Schweinsteiger's move make that happen? Maybe, but considering Guardiola's affection for Thiago, perhaps nothing would prevent the 23-year-old from getting a good run-in. If Thiago stays healthy, he will be one of the first names on Guardiola's team sheet.
Gianluca Gaudino – Some leaving the midfield mix is good news for Gaudino no matter who it is. The 18-year-old has the chance to be something special, and playing time is how his talent will develop. That playing time is probably going to come with the reserves though, and that aspect probably did not depend on whether Schweinsteiger was in the team or not. Nonetheless, Gaudino's path the first team is now a little more clear.
Sebastian Rode – Many have proclaimed him Scheinsteiger's successor, and not because Sebastian and Bastian are very similar names. He is a very well-rounded talent, and even though his passing is not up to Schweinsteiger's level, Rode is the best short-term substitute for the attributes Schweinsteiger takes with him to England. However, Guardiola gave Rode just 11 starts last season, so he may still be a squad player even though Schweinsteiger is no longer around.
Juan Bernat – Another wise investment could have gone to waste had Guardiola struggled to find a place for Bernat. Schweinsteiger's departure not only removes a midfield option for Bayern in the center of the park, but provides a need in midfield to put an agile ball winner in the center of the park. That need leaves an opening for Alaba to get more repetitions as a midfielder, leaving the left flank for the blooming Bernat.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg – When he left on loan, he was barely getting a sniff in Bayern's team. Now he has the best opportunity to break into the side with the departure of Schweinsteiger. Depending on how his preseason goes, he could grasp the opportunity to be a critical name on the team sheet, helping Bayern transition quickly away from the Fußballgott.
Joshua Kimmich – Despite his raw skill and his mature aptitude, Kimmich was going to be hard pressed to get consistent time with Bayern. With Schweinsteiger's departure, the arduous task of breaking into the team gets a little easier. While a different player than Schweinsteiger, Kimmich has the ability to become a strong feature at Bayern, and now the odds increase of him being able to show it.