The summer of 2014 was the most unique transfer window in recent memory. Bayern Munich had a net profit – at least in transfer fees – for the first time since in six years, and the front office had to make the kind of late-window purchases it doesn't normally make.
The window was defined by arguably the most successful player negotiation for Bayern in the modern era, as well as arguably one of the least successful one as well. Several of the moves provided Pep Guardiola with a more dynamic team and one that could over come a significant squad loss more easily. The squad did receive the type of refresh it needed though, and that showed late in the season when many key players had to sit out the crucial stage of the season.
Here is a look at the 2014 summer transfer window and how their policy made a significant shift in a different direction.
Xabi Alonso Olano (€10 million, Real Madrid)
There was a bit of an uproar when Alonso came to Munich because Bayern surrendered a decently sized fee and gave the midfielder a big contract. Many thought that money should have gone to Toni Kroos, but by the time Alonso came to Munich, Kroos was long gone. He made an impact right away, posing with Lederhosen just after his transfer. Not many players have his combination of skill and experience, but if those players are out there, Bayern don’t seem to mind going the extra euro to recruit him.
Medhi Amine El Mouttaqi Benatia (€26 million, AS Roma)
Bayern are not known for making emergency buys, but when Javi Martinez injured his knee in the DFL Supercup, Bayern had to move quickly to find a replacement. Luckily they had already been scouting Benatia the previous season, so the buy did not come out of the blue. The late transfer did affect Benatia’s status, for he was not in shape upon arrival and did not have a lot of time to adjust. There is also the fact that he had become superfluous the very next season, especially since he could not stay fit.
Juan Bernat Velasco (€10 million, Valencia)
The Spaniard’s move to Bayern was one many did not expect to occur, but it was one that proved important. Some could have argued that Bayern needed help on the other side of defense – right back –but when David Alaba went down to injury, Guardiola was certainly glad Bernat was his next best option. Bayern appeared as an opportune buyer in this case, but that was because of Guardiola’s ability to adapt players to certain roles. Future managers may not be able to do that, so Bayern may need to address needs rather than seize talent opportunities.
Sinan Kurt (€1.2 million, Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Kurt was part of Bayern’s effort to bet on young talent. It was the most Bayern had spent on a teenager at the time, but that bet did not work out the way they hoped. They broke that teenage transfer record the very next season, and have been continuously increasing their investments on teenagers since. The trend would suggest moves like Kurt’s will become less common, but when Bayern sees a young German talent, it will always be hard not to recruit him.
Robert Lewandowski (free transfer, Borussia Dortmund)
This deal may have been one of the best Bayern ever made, even if it meant Lewandowski had to become the club’s highest paid player. The move highlighted Bayern’s patience in negotiation, but more importantly it showed how attractive Bayern had become as a destination. Not only had Bayern waited for Lewandowski, but Lewandowski had waited for Bayern when several options were available. Could it have been all about money? Sure, but Bayern aren’t the only club out there will loads of money to spend.
Jose Manuel Reina Páez (€3 million, Liverpool)
Pepe Reina broke the back-up goalkeeper mold at Bayern, for he was the best insurance to Manuel Neuer since Hans-Jorg Butt in 2011/12. Bayern were four months removed from starting Lukas Raeder in a cup game when this move was completed. Bayern have since not spared an expense when it came to Neuer’s back-up, ensuring the squad had a player who could fill in well should he be asked to.
Sebastian Rode (free transfer, Eintracht Frankfurt)
Many teams tried to secure Rode’s signature when his contract was running down with Frankfurt. After winning six trophies in two years, Bayern may not have had to do a lot of convincing to get him to sign a four-year deal. However, Guardiola barely used him despite openly praising his work rate. His failure to make an impact either highlights Guardiola’s inability to fit players into his system or the disconnect that is sometimes there between a Bayern coach and the front office.
Diego Contento (€1 million, Girondins de Bordeaux)
In Bayern’s academy system since age five, Contento was able to break into a Bayern first team a majority of academy players could not. However, he never developed into more than just a squad player and was only used in emergency situation. With Bernat coming in, Bayern took the best price they could get – €1 million for half of his player rights. He is still struggling to get first team minutes though, which begs the question of how high his ceiling was in the first place.
Julian Green (loan, Hamburger SV)
Having scored at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Green thought he was ready for the next level. Mirko Slomka gave him a chance prove himself, but upon his sacking, Green could not convince Josef Zinnbauer or Bruno Labbadia that he was first-team material. He was the most high-profile academy loan since Toni Kroos went to Bayer Leverkusen for two years, but he proved that scoring lots of goals at the regional level does not translate to first-team success.
Toni Kroos (€30 million, Real Madrid)
If management did not think Kroos was the "Bayern player" they wanted him to be, they certainly waited a long time to realize it. As a result, Bayern became the loser in contract extension talks and had to sell the midfielder – arguably their best academy product since Philipp Lahm – for whatever they could get. The case seemed like a one-off failure until other players started to leave the club at discounted fees with a year left on their contracts. By the same token, Bayern have also been more active in negotiations with players they want to keep around since failing to keep Kroos, but the way Bayern approach the sales of players who don’t want to stick around may need to change.
Mario Mandzukic (€22 million, Atlético Madrid)
His fallout with Guardiola was very well known, making his eventual sale very predictable. Mandzukic may just be the victim of Bayern trying to acquire the best players they can. Mandzukic had reported fallouts with other coaches since, but ultimately he was a target man who had to find a system that fit him best. With Guardiola at the helm, that was not his brand of system, although he did extremely well to start consistently for a manager who likes a more versatile player at the top of his formations.
Lukas Raeder (free transfer, Vitoria Setúbal)
He was an expensive acquisition for the player he was – one who had fallen behind Ralf Fährmann and Timo Wellenreuther in Schalke’s pecking order – but he seemed to have served his purpose. He developed his skills with the Bayern reserves and got opportunities to train with Neuer. When his big chance to fill in came, he did an adequate job, although Bayern fans may still be miffed he prevented Bayern’s reserves to reach the third division. He was far from becoming a Bundesliga goalkeeper whgen his contract expires, and Bayern do not keep those kind of keepers around.
Alessandro Schöpf (€400,000, 1. FC Nürnberg)
Schöpf is not the crown jewel of Bayern’s youth academy by any stretch, but he had enough quality to get the attention of several Bundesliga clubs. Reports had suggested at the time Gladbach were interested in bringing in Schöpf on loan – a desirable option after Emre Can left for less than Bayern could have received. However, Max Eberl was supposedly unwilling to do business after Bayern poached Kurt from his academy, so Bayern sold him to Nürnberg and held a buyback clause instead. He showed his quality there, but did not look like player that was going to help Bayern transition from the Robbery area.
Daniel van Buyten (retired)
The man could have played five more years if he wanted to, but decided instead to call it a career at age 37. Bayern’s willingness to keep his experience around the club for eight years certainly paid off, and they only moved on from him when they wanted to incorporate younger and better talent into the squad. He will always be known as a player who served the club, and Bayern tend to let those players leave on their own terms.
Patrick Weihrauch (free transfer, Bayern Munich II)
He appeared to be something exciting when Bayern gave him a professional contract when he was still with the U19 team, but injuries and inconsistency stunted Weihrauch’s development. Unable to find a suitor, he elected to take the two-year offer to play with Bayern’s reserve team. The move proved to be relatively successful, for he convinced Heiko Vogel to give him extended minutes over Kurt and other forward prospects. He is now set to join Würzburger Kickers, a club that should know him pretty well since he played against them for several years in the Regionalliga.
In Bayern’s quest to find the right back-up goalkeeper, the club seem very keen on bringing in World Cup star Keylor Navas. Real Madrid were able to snag him away, able to offer him a few more opportunities at first-team minutes than Bayern. The move turned out to be pretty successful for Navas, and Bayern instead recruited Pepe Reina.
Speaking of Real Madrid, Sami Khedira’s name surfaced as a possible player to replace the injured Javi Martinez late in the transfer window. Bayern had been linked with the German midfield several times, which may have been only because he has quality and he is, well, German. Khedira would up living up to his contract with Real Madrid before moving to Juventus on a free transfer.
Arguably the biggest talent they failed to recruit was Hakan Çalhanoglu, who was playing with Hamburg at the time. Sporting director Matthias Sammer had wanted Çalhanoglu since his Karlsruhe days, but he could not convince the young Turkish player to move to Munich. Çalhanoglu moved to Leverkusen instead and he became one of the rare young players who turned down a chance to join Bayern.
Youth Players with Professional Contracts
Much like Julian Green the summer before, Gaudino made a big impact during Bayern’s preseason. He was getting a lot of time with the first team well into August, and had even started the DFL Supercup. A professional contract was certainly on his way, but Bayern have given him few chances to break into the first team since. It did not help that the club added Xabi Alonso to the fold, directly blocking any chance at possible playing time.