Bayern Munich, Germany’s most successful club, needed no second invitation to make use of the transfer window, following an abysmal season. Targets were soon identified for revamping a department or two. Players were also identified, who could step up in the absence of the stars. The scouting network of Die Roten can rest on their recently-earned laurels for some time now, as their efforts have helped Bayern to find a couple of talented kids, not only from the second tier, but also the third tier of club football.
Having failed to land a single significant trophy last season, Bayern management soon identified the weak links in the team and anticipated the need to colligate fresh faces. With Butt entering his final professional season and Kraft failing to impress, the need for a goalkeeper was evident. Bayern acted swiftly and snapped up Manuel Neuer even before Manchester United could hold talks. The German international custodian is no slouch under the bar and has proved his caliber on numerous occasions, last season. The signing was a bold statement of intent and the capture of the not-so-fans’-favourite has been hailed by top shotstoppers of the world as a good signing.
Next up was the department of defence – the epicentre of Bayern’s headaches. A new addition in the heart of defence was top of the agenda. Signing a fullback was second in the wish list. The management identified Boateng as the prime target for the centre half position with Chelsea’s Alex as a backup plan. After a prolonged transfer saga, Bayern succeeded in reaching an agreement with Man City to sign Boateng.
Signing a fullback appeared difficult as Bayern needed to determine Lahm’s position in the team – left or right? Their pursuit of Fabio Coentrão soon disintegrated, as Benfica held out a €30 million clause. Long term transfer target Gregory Van Der Wiel was in the reckoning too but somehow Bayern did not approach him. Finally they recognized Rafinha as their summer target and he was duly dispatched from Serie A side Genoa. The signing also meant that Lahm can now move back to his preferred left back position. Of course, having two fullbacks in Lahm and Boateng, who can play down both the flanks, is a bonus. Bayern’s intelligent investments for the rear-guard have won over Bayern legends as well.
There was also a hunt to have a backup plan for the hotshots – Ribery and Robben; not a necessity but nonetheless a cushion. In the last two seasons, both the wingers have left an impression of being physically brittle and Bayern suffered in their absence, as quality substitutes were not available. This time the management wanted to make sure that their absence isn’t as detrimental for the team as it was last term. Signing of Usami (on loan) can give Bayern that cover. Extension of Alaba’s contract also means that he in the plan of Heynckes to play a part in the absence of the fragile geniuses.
Miro Klose has been sold and Ivica Olic is just back after a prolonged injury. Bayern management enacted smartly to snap up Bundesliga 2 top scorer Nils Petersen, as a replacement for Klose and to partner Gomez (provided they play with two strikers). Thanks to the impressive scouting network, they also signed Tranmere Rovers’ Dale Jennings. These two signings will mainly be used to play second fiddle to Gomez and his erstwhile partner Olic.
So far Bayern have spent a fortune to put their house in proper order. However, with the departure of Van Bommel and Kroos’ inability to emulate his exploits during his loan spell with Leverkusen, Bayern midfield does not look convincing and apparently is in dire need of refurbishment. Van Bommel’s replacement Gustavo has not yet established himself to play alongside Basti.
Bayern took note and approached talented Arturo Vidal from Leverkusen. The Chilean could have become an ideal midfield partner to Schweinsteiger. According to his agent, Vidal even wanted this move to be realised. However, Leverkusen management seemed disinterested to hold talks with Bayern. To make matters worse, Juventus stole Vidal from under Bayern’s nose with a better offer. As a result of which, Bayern took a swipe at Vidal for his comments, favouring a move to Bayern and unnecessarily involved Juventus in the discussion as well, resulting in a bit of juvenile exchanges of words between two of the continent’s most revered clubs.
Bayern have smartly addressed most of their concerns of last season. Even backup plans have been taken care of. In the first of their preseason tournaments they lost in LIGA total! Cup semifinal, against Hamburg, but managed to win third position after defeating Mainz. The team played later in the Audi Cup where they lost by 2-0 to FC Barcelona in the final after beating AC Milan on penalty shootouts in the semifinal. Although Bayern have conceded two goals in the final, their centre half pairing Badstuber and Boateng can hardly be held responsible for that. Both of them performed well. So did new signings Usami and Petersen. Even though the preseason has so far been impressive, surprisingly Bayern are still in the market for a couple of pieces to solve their puzzle. These signings, however, can only serve as gold plating, as they are neither urgent nor important.
The first one is to find a partner for Schweinsteiger in the holding role. Bayern’s approach for Vidal more or less confirms that they are not yet convinced about Gustavo’s caliber. But do Bayern really need a new holding midfielder? A close scrutiny of the squad suggests otherwise. Gustavo is defensively quite solid and had a good time with Hoffenheim before jumping ship. Bayern also have squad players like Pranjic and Tymoshchuk, both of whom play the holding role.
Even Toni Kroos, ideally known for his attacking prowess, has the physicality and technique to play the holding role. In fact, Jogi Löw has already positioned Kroos on a holding role for the Mannschaft. Considering the replacements Bayern have, it can be safely concluded that Bayern need not go for a new midfielder. The botched up plan to land Vidal should no longer be considered a failure, as Bayern are self-sufficient enough in that department and need not make any reinforcements.
The second one is of another additional winger, as a back-up for Ribery and Robben. That is probably one of the reasons as to why Bayern were recently rumoured to be interested in signing Swiss prodigy Xherdan Shaqiri. Though Bayern management has so far denied approaching FC Basel regarding a possible transfer, the news from the grapevine suggests that they are planning to complete the signing in a clause which will find the talented winger to spend another year with the Swiss club.
Again, questions can be asked regarding the importance of this signing. Even if Robbery gets injured, Bayern can still deploy Müller down one flank (preferably the right-side) and either of Usami and Alaba down the other. If both the youngsters fail to seize the opportunity, Toni Kroos can be deployed on the left flank. Moreover, age is pretty much on the side of both Robben and Ribery. So, there should be no reason to hunt for another wingman to replace Ribery or Robben in the long run.