By Nikolai Mende and Francois Duchateau
With two months left in the 2011-12 club season, Bayern Munich are already preparing for the next campaign. Xherdan Shaqiri has confirmed his summer move to the Allianz Arena, but Uli Hoeness, Christian Nerlinger & Co. are working hard behind the scenes as they look to secure the team's long-term future.
The Bayern management have placed great emphasis on ensuring class within the squad for years to come, starting with the capture of Shaqiri in February. The Switzerland international was on the Bavarians' radar last summer, and at the time was eager to move to Munich. However, the German giants focused their transfer campaign on defensive areas, with Manuel Neuer, Fabio Coentrao, Benedikt Howedes and Arturo Vidal all on their agenda.
This season, however, Bayern have recognised the need for depth to compensate for potential injuries as well as the physical and mental demands of competing on three fronts - especially with the break set to be shortened by the 2012 European Championship. Their summer transfers will focus on bringing quality back-ups to several positions.
|SECURING THE FUTURE | Key players tied to Bayern for the long term
Paramount to the board's vision for Bayern's future is the retention of key players, and at the moment, their top priority is to extend the contracts of Robben and striker Mario Gomez, both of whom have deals that are set to expire in 2013.
Goal.com can confirm that the Dutchman's signature is now just a formality and will be announced soon. Fans may have to wait longer for Gomez's new deal to be unveiled, but an extension to 2016 is expected before season's end.
Robben and Gomez are just two of several core players in the Bayern squad, all of whom the German giants consider untouchable. Goal.com can reveal that in recent weeks, the Bavarians turned down sizable offers from top clubs for Toni Kroos, Holger Badstuber, and captain Philipp Lahm (read full report here). In the past, they have rejected impressive sums for the likes of Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Thomas Muller.
Some are less secure in their roles at Bayern, and there will be a trimming of sparingly-used and ageing squad players during the summer. Breno, Ivica Olic, Takashi Usami and Danijel Pranjic will not be offered new deals, and will leave the Allianz Arena in the upcoming transfer window. The 32-year-old Olic has been closely linked with Wolfsburg of late, and Japan international Usami appears to be on his way to Nurnberg on loan. Pranjic was close to joining Everton in January, and in the summer Bayern will be unable to block his move as his deal at the club is set to expire at the end of the season.
With Shaqiri and Dante on their way to add depth, and Gomez and Robben set to pen long-term agreements, the Bavarians are in a stable position. Having turned down bids for their most important players, Bayern have shown unwavering commitment to their vision, which has become quite clear: to maintain a familiar and deep squad in the long term, and challenge the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.