The 2016-17 season ended for Bayern on Saturday. That end marked another beginning: that of the summer transfer market, which beckons die Roten ahead of the new season.
Bayern need to sign quality players this summer. However you see it, the 2016-17 season was a bit of a letdown. The team fell short in both the Champions League and the DFB-Pokal. While the Bundesliga is the prize for consistency and long-term performance, Bayern fans were surely left wanting for more.
In football, the transfer market presents itself as a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have the exciting prospect of your team adding new talent to its squad. On the other, the fear that one of your favourite players will seek pastures new.
As far as Bayern fans are concerned, the shock that could come from the latter has already been endured. Both Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm retired, and no possible departures would entail a comparable amount of collective heartbreak.
However, we still have some potential departures.
This one looks like the likeliest. If you believe what German media have said, you know that neither Costa or the club are happy with their current arrangement. The player wants more playing time, and the club feels his performance has been subpar.
Our own editor advocated for the sale in his end-of-season power rankings. The reasoning is that Bayern should cash in while Costa can still attract decent money. After all, he cost the club a good amount of money. While his début season was staggeringly good, his sophomore one was lacklustre, to say the least.
Luckily for Bayern, the market is primed for players under €40m. If he indeed ends up leaving, Costa could still leave behind a sum well clear of €30m.
Still, I will go on record that I disagree with Michel about selling Costa. His played well enough in his first season to have some credit still left.
Renato Sanches and Joshua Kimmich
Bayern are usually a smart club. Selling either one of these players would be a terrible move. Kimmich himself has made it clear that he wants to play for Bayern. Even if Sanches had a difficult first season, he is still 19. There is plenty of time for him to improve and become a mainstay at Bayern.
This I-will-leave-if-I-don’t-play attitude is ridiculous for players their age. Philipp Lahm showed you otherwise.
Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy both signed for the club already, and will join over the summer. This is the kind of efficient, no-bollocks business Bayern like to do. However, Uli Hoeneß said recently that if die Roten really want a player, they are willing to go to unprecedented lengths. By lengths, of course, I mean price tags.
Now, Bayern certainly are not a Real Madrid or Barcelona kind of club. They will not even come close of breaking the transfer fee record. My bet is that Hoeneß meant that Bayern are willing to go to the €50-60m range this summer. That is unprecedented, given that the club’s most expensive signing still is Javi Martínez for €40m.
A few media outlets have speculated that Bayern might be interested in signing Real Madrid’s number 10. The running premise is that Ancelotti himself asked the board to bid for James.
I have looked at this from all possible angles. Signing James is stupid, and I am not sure Bayern are even considering it.
Yes, he is a very, very good player. Yes, he is currently unhappy with his situation at Real Madrid. Indeed, the merengues appear to be looking for buyers.
However, here is where the problems start. Real Madrid want to charge around €70m for the Colombian playmaker. That is a no-no for many reasons.
First, what kind of price tag is that? I understand that Florentino Pérez would like to incur in as little loss as possible. Selling James at the price Real Madrid paid for him back in 2014 (around €75m) is impossible. But 70 is a hard pill to swallow. Think about it: 70 million Euros for a player who has been a chronic benchwarmer ever since Carlo Ancelotti left Valdebebas. A guy who Zinédine Zidane does not trust to play the big games, like the 2016 Champions League final or this year’s semi-final.
€70m is the kind of money you pay for a player for the big games. Not for someone behind Lucas Vázquez in the pecking order (with respect to Vázquez).
Secondly, and more to the point: do Bayern really need James? No. The midfield is already crowded as it is, and I am not sure that James would be better off in Bayern anyway.
Most Colombians would very much enjoy seeing the national team captain join another European great. Alas, the signing would not be in either party’s best interest.
Now to the elephant in the room.
Many signs point towards Bayern signing Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal. These include global media speculation, an Arturo Vidal admission that the club had asked him about his country man and this:
The Chilean federation announced its squad for the upcoming fixtures, and accidentally listed Alexis as a Bayern player. Needless to say, they almost immediately deleted this photo and replaced it with one where Alexis belongs to Arsenal. However, you know and I know that the Internet never forgets.
Yet, the question remains: does signing Alexis make sense?
Since Bayern are above all a football club, I will go through the football bit first. Alexis is a versatile attacking footballer. He can play as a winger on either side or as a centre-forward. He has even featured as number 10. This versatility is a crucial factor for Bayern. The reason for this is Robert Lewandowski.
There has been much talk about signing a backup striker. Indeed, we think in this blog that it is one of the top priorities for Bayern this summer. However, it is hard to find a quality striker who is willing to be Lewandowski’s understudy. The Polish striker is not often injured, and his quality makes him a no-brainer starter. Mario Gómez recently rubbished claims that he could return to Bayern, saying that “he has learned to love himself”.
Indeed, this is a conundrum. Alexis presents himself as a good answer to that conundrum. He is not a natural striker, but he can play there and do a good job of it. His crosshair is pointed towards the wings. Bayern have ageing wingers in Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry, and Alexis could fight for a starting spot there.
So yes, this makes sense from a footballing point of view.
Transfermarkt lists Alexis’ value at €65m. The latest rumours indicate that Bayern are negotiating for €58m and offering the player €13m/year in wages. This could be within shooting range of Bayern’s bidding. While it would mean breaking the club record, and committing to a large salary, it is also somewhat sensible, given the current state of the market.
The verdict is: go for it.
A quiet summer?
Save for the big Alexis rumour, and the already rubbished Leon Goretzka hoopla, there has been little in the way of rumours concerning Bayern. Obviously, signing the Chilean would be a big deal, but with Süle and Rudy already on board, Bayern might be close to done with their business. I like that. I despise those long transfer sagas that end up with ridiculous fees and iffy feelings. [Editor’s note: and fax machines not working at a time when everybody uses email…]
Indeed, Bayern have signalled that their transfer policy this summer is clear and will be aggressive. It looks as if the lacklustre season rang a few alarms, just as it did in 2012.