The European football calendar year is two days from turning over, opening up another transfer window for clubs to complete their business. Coming up short in two competitions last season, Bayern Munich have the opportunity to open the checkbooks to fill out theirs squad for the 2015/16 season.
Like many clubs in Europe, Bayern have gotten a head start in their business. Much of the business they have done has panned out due to diligent scouting and clever negotiations. Pep Guardiola, Matthias Sammer, and Michael Reschke still have a lot of work to do though as they try to plug the remaining holes in their squad.
Solution: Douglas Costa (from Shakhtar Donetsk)
The day eventually had to come when Bayern had to rely on someone other than Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben to produce on the flanks. That day was last season, when both missed extended time due to injury. They moved quickly to find the option they desired, Pep Guardiola and Michael Reschke going to the Copa America and bring Douglas Costa back as a souvenir. With Ribéry expected to be out for the beginning of the season, the 24-year-old is a long-term investment who could have an immediate impact.
Bayern have the luxury of having three great players in midfield – Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm, and Bastian Schweinsteiger – but all three are on the wrong side of 30. Bayern eventually have to find younger options in order to keep their tactical model sustainable, hence their interest in soon-to-be out of contract Ilkay Gündogan. That option proved to be too risky of an investment, but Bayern can bet on two very powerful young pieces, both of whom played in the 2015 UEFA Euro 21 Championship. The future of Bayern's midfield rests on their shoulders, but that future may not be far away.
Solution: Sven Ulreich (from VfB Stuttgart)
One wouldn't think the player behind Manuel Neuer would be so important, but a lot of time has passed since Bayern employed less than three goalkeepers at once. Reina is trying to elongate his career in Naples, so Bayern moved swiftly to find his replacement. In Ulreich, they got a post-hype talent trying to resurrect his standing among Germany's top goalkeepers. The decision to become a secondary option at his age is a curious career-move, but he could become a valuable piece as Neuer keeps racking up the minutes.
Positions of Need
Whether it is a player or manager decision makes no consequence, for Lahm is no longer in the picture at fullback unless it is a special tactical case. That makes Rafinha the only right fullback in the squad, and not even Mitchell Weiser can provide relief. There is still the potential they reposition one of their current players, but it is more likely, and more necessary, to find another piece that can man that position.
Possible Option: Matteo Darmian, Torino
He is the name mentioned most recently in speculative rumors to be able to grasp the empty fullback role. The 25-year-old was a notable piece to a defense that helped advance Torino far into the UEFA Europa League. His defensive skills are stout, but his passing and crossing attributes are not. At his age, Bayern would be purchasing the player he is, not the player he could potentially become.
Reports mentioned him as a possible piece Bayern could yank from Chelsea, but there is no way Jose Mourinho lets that happen. He played more minutes in 2014/15 than any other player in the world. Even though Cesar Azpilicueta is an exciting right back talent, Mourinho will not allow his most dependable player to move on, especially to his mortal managerial enemy.
Dream Option: Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid
Despite being one of Real Madrid's best players, Carvajal could get squeezed out with the arrival of Porto fullback Danilo. He now can be mentioned in the same sentence as Fábio Coentrão, not a great group to be in these days. He has played in the Bundesliga before, and at 23, has a lot of room to grow as an all-around fullback.
Bayern got away with not having a true back-up striker last season when Claudio Pizarro went down to injury. Thomas Müller is the big reason for that happening, but when the numbers game was not in Bayern's favor last season, Müller's services were needed elsewhere. Now that Pizarro's career could be coming to an end, Bayern need a legitimate backup to replace him. The type of striker Bayern target as well could be one they have not had in Munich for a long time.
Possible Option: Breel Embolo, Basel
He is young and he is raw, but Embolo is already incredibly talented. He also has a contract until 2019, so any club wanting to poach him away from Basel will have to pay top Euro to get him. His talent is undeniable though, even if it needs to be refined. He would be a gamble for Bayern to invest in, but one that could sit behind Robert Lewandowski before eventually taking the reins.
Unlikely Option: Raffael, Borussia Mönchengladbach
His link with Bayern is loose at best, most recent reports linking him with a €15 million move from the Foals. Sporting director Max Eberl squashed those rumors pretty quickly, saying Raffael would be in a M'Gladbach uniform next season. His running mate Max Kruse has already departed the club, and so Eberl would probably not oblige any offers for his 30-year-old striker.
Dream Option: Kevin Volland, Hoffenheim
One may not be impressed when initially watching him, but he is a player that can pack a punch if deployed the correct way. The fact Hoffenheim has gradually improved as he's developed is no coincidence, and he showed in the U21 Euros he can lead the line if he has the right players behind him. Having already lost Roberto Firmino to Liverpool, Hoffenheim will not willingly send their prized German away, but he is a player Bayern will probably keep tabs on.
When fit, Bayern is not short of a central defender, but the five options they had last season were never all fit at the same time. Add in Dante's potential departure, and Bayern could once again be scrambling to structure their defense. Bayern always seem one piece away from having the best defense in Europe,
Possible Option: Aymen Abdennour, AS Monaco
He was not a player many recognized coming into the season, but the part he played in Monaco's defense sent ripples around Europe. He is great with his feet, and though a but undisciplined, he knows how to win the ball. He has already voiced his desire to play at a bigger club, even though his switch to Monaco became perfect just under a year ago. Should Bayern want to invest in an upgrade for Dante, he is a prime candidate.
Unlikely Option: Marc Bartra, Barcelona
Many transfer speculators salivated at the supposed €12 million buyout clause Marc Bartra has in his contract for not reaching playing time requirements. For the player that Bartra is, that price is a very strong figure to pull the trigger on. However, that buyout clause will go up to €30 million in July, a vastly different kind of investment in the 24-year-old. Although he may have a connection with Guardiola (although such a relationship is not established), there are no indicators linking him to a move to Munich.
Dream Option: Jonathan Tah, Hamburger SV
A teenager that made his first-team debut with Hamburg at 17, Tah is a player that has the highest ceiling of any defender in the German youth system. Clubs are already trying to pry him away from the rotting carcass that is Hamburg, recent reports suggesting Bayer Leverkusen is trying to poach the 19-year-old for €6 million and Robbie Kruse. There are several parts of his game – instincts being the major one – that need to improve, but he will be a big name in Germany for a long time.
Possible and Impending Departures
In order for players to come in, inevitably players have to leave. Bayern have parted ways with no less than six players in each of the last three seasons, and just as many could be on their way out this transfer window. Some have already departed the club, and a few more may not have a significant enough role with the Rekordmeister.
Dante – No, the mistake against Porto is not determining his future. Many easily forget the form he was in two years ago was paramount to Bayern's treble season. That said, he is as a defender that takes positional risks to do his job, which only works when Javi Martínez and Luiz Gustavo are standing in front of him. Sammer has come to Dante's support, heralding his presence in the squad. He has reportedly rejected offers from Russia and Turkey, but that does not preclude him from taking an opportunity he cannot refuse.
Julian Green – His career now in limbo, Green has a very important preseason upcoming as he tries to restart his development. How much his stock with Bayern has fallen is still unclear, but he has two years left on his contract to get it back up. Another loan is certainly in the cards, but given his unwillingness to play in a reserve team, he may be better served with a full or partial sale with a buyback clause.
Jan Kirchhoff – He signed a three-year deal hoping to be a piece Bayern could use in their defense for years to come, but he could not win over the affection of Guardiola. The first-year gaffer only used him in holding midfield before sending him on loan, and his injury-plagued 18 months at Schalke did not make a case for him to establish himself at Bayern. Like Nils Petersen before, he will probably end up as a low cost investment Bayern may be able to profit on.
Claudio Pizarro – After signing a handful of short deals with Bayern, Pizarro may not sign another as the club tries to rejuvenate the squad a bit. He may not sign another contract for any other club either, meaning the two matches he has remaining with Peru may be the last action of his career. If Pizarro does return, it would probably be as a low-level squad player, for having the 36-year-old as the only back-up striker is a risk Bayern cannot afford to take anymore.
Pepe Reina – Spending a year with Bayern as Neuer's backup did not transpire the way he expected. He therefore has decided to take the wage-cut Napoli were looking for last summer in order to return to Naples as their primary goalkeeper. His stay was brief with Bayern, but he finally added the elusive league title to his trophy case.
Mitchell Weiser – Over the course of the season, Weiser increased his odds of getting another shot with Bayern. His breakthrough only came at the expense of others, and he finally showed the talent Bayern invested €800,000 in. The Rekordmeister did not give Weiser the chance he was looking for after that, and will instead take his talents to the German capital.