Sane in, James out - Bayern Munich’s transfer plans this summer

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The Bundesliga side won another league title this season, but continue to rebuild their squad to get them back to the top of Europe

Despite winning the Bundesliga title for the seventh successive season, 2018-19 is seen as a disappointing campaign by many Bayern Munich supporters. For the first time in a decade, the title race went down to the final day with Bayern usually having the league wrapped up with a few games to spare.

New head coach Niko Kovac inherited a team in transition, but was still expected to dominate domestically. Bayern eventually stumbled over the finish line to another league title, but the nature of their performances at home and in Europe have piled pressure on the Croatian coach. 

Losing to back-to-back Champions League finalists Liverpool is nothing to be ashamed of, but the means of the European exit saw Bayern muster up little opposition to Jurgen Klopp's in-form side. Kovac's players hit out at negative tactics and a defensive approach, which also did not go unnoticed by Bayern's bosses, with Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge often contradicting each other about their head coach's future at the Allianz Arena.

With Bayern currently in the middle of a massive rebuild, summer 2019 promises to be a busy one for the Bavarian giants. Kovac's future is heavily in doubt and he currently faces the sack, especially with other promising coaches available on the market and Ajax's Erik ten Hag openly praised by the top men in Munich.

Bayern could very possibly have a coaching change this summer, but regardless of who is in charge for 2019-20, they need to continue their squad overhaul as they look to return to being a Champions League contender.


DEFENCE


Jerome Boateng Mats Hummels Bayern Munich

Bayern were the first of Europe's big clubs to make major waves in the transfer market ahead of the summer, spending over €100 million on new defenders before the domestic season even ended. Their backline has looked shaky at times this season, conceding over 30 goals in the Bundesliga for the first time since 2010-11 when they finished third under Louis van Gaal.

Veteran defender Jerome Boateng has regularly looked a shadow of his former self, prompting Germany manager Joachim Low to retire both him and long-time defensive partner Mats Hummels from the national team. Hummels still has a future at Bayern but Boateng should move on this summer, having flirted with Paris Saint-Germain last year. Manchester United used to be regularly linked to the centre-back also, but a move to FranceItaly or even Major League Soccer seems likeliest for the 30-year-old.

Hummels is set to partner Niklas Sule next season, but the new defensive additions add depth across the backline. Bayern's first transfer was to agree a €35m (£31m/$40m) deal for World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard. The 23-year-old plays at right-back for France but lined out in the centre for Stuttgart. His ability to play on the right will provide additional tactical options, either playing as a backup to Joshua Kimmich or instead of the Germany international so Kimmich can move into defensive midfield.

Bayern also broke the Bundesliga transfer record to sign Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid. The versatile defender was a transfer target in the winter window, but the clubs were able to agree an €80 million (£68m/$90m) deal in March so Hernandez could move this summer. Like Pavard on the right, Hernandez is adept at playing at left-back or in the middle. David Alaba has been in Munich since 2008 and is still one of the club's key players, so probably won't find his left-back spot in jeopardy. Hernandez should provide competition at centre-back and allow more rotation for the league and Champions League.

Kovac had only Rafinha in reserve to play at both full-back positions in 2018-19 and stood in for the suspended Joshua Kimmich against Liverpool in the 3-1 Champions League second-leg defeat. However, he played less than 1000 Bundesliga minutes this season and has already confirmed his exit from the club, with a transfer back to his native Brazil on the cards.

Manuel Neuer remains the club's undisputed number one goalkeeper, with Sven Ulreich acting as his backup. There had been rumours that Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel could follow in Neuer's footsteps by leaving Gelsenkirchen for Munich, but the 22-year-old only wants to be first choice rather than a backup and would not be happy waiting for his chance behind the experienced shot-stopper. Ulreich has been seeking more game time as he turns 31 in August but with Neuer picking up injuries more often, a good offer would have to come for him to leave Munich.


MIDFIELD


Renato Sanches Bayern Munich 2018-19

The addition of Leon Goretzka on a free transfer has added extra competition to the Bayern Munich midfield. The former Schalke player turned 24 in February, so should remain an important figure in Munich for the next few seasons. He played in every Bundesliga game he was fit for this season, starting the majority of matches under Kovac. One player who suffered from Goretzka's presence in the Bayern midfield was Renato Sanches. The former European Golden Boy made just three Bundesliga starts this season and has admitted he may have to leave to find first-team football. A loan move could be on the cards once more, as Bayern are unlikely to recoup the €35m (£30m/$40) outlay they paid in 2016.

Goretzka's midfield partner Thiago scored just two goals in the league but contributed much more to Bayern's play as the Spain international was often the man tasked with unlocking difficult defences and teams who defended deep. He is always wanted by Europe's elite clubs, but it would take a lot of money and a transfer request from the 28-year-old for them to let him go. Javi Martinez is an easier target for interested clubs, turning 31 in September, but has defensive abilities that make him unique in the Bayern midfield.

Corentin Tolisso played in two of the first three games of the season, scoring in the third, but was injured just 42 minutes into that game and missed the rest of the season as a result. He has returned to fitness ahead of the summer and should be good to go again for the start of the new campaign. The French midfielder is just 24 and, like Goretzka, is seen as one of the future stars of the team. 

The same cannot be said of James Rodriguez, whose future is in doubt after a two-year loan spell from Real Madrid. The Colombian has a €42m (£36m/$47m) purchase option in his loan deal, but concerns over where he fits in the team as well as a falling out with Kovac mean he is likely to return to Madrid if Bayern keep faith in their current coach. Real boss Zinedine Zidane is also not a huge fan of the attacking midfielder, so he will find himself on the transfer list again this summer.

With Tolisso returning from injury and Martinez set to stay, Bayern are weighing up whether to invest in midfield this summer. Atletico Madrid's Rodri is one of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe and is wanted by Bayern as well as a host of other top clubs including Manchester City.


ATTACK


Arjen Robben Bayern Munich 2018-19

For the fourth time in six seasons, Robert Lewandowski finished as the Bundesliga's top scorer and despite some questions from fans over his ability in big games in Europe, he is still Bayern's key man up front. Young German striker Jann Fiete Arp has been signed from Hamburg and will arrive in Munich this summer, having said his goodbyes to his boyhood club.

A more prolific backup for Lewandowski would definitely help and may keep the Poland international on his toes as Bayern have not had an alternative in attack since allowing Sandro Wagner to leave for China in January. Thomas Muller is nominally a forward, but rarely leads the line and works best behind Lewandowski. His forced retirement from Germany should also give him more time to rest during the season and add to his longevity at club level.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic found versatility in his defensive signings and would like the same with new additions up front. RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner is seen as someone who can provide competition for Lewandowski, but also play out wide and give depth on the wing. The 23-year-old's contract at Leipzig expires in 2020 and he has rejected a new deal with the intention of moving to Munich. However, the fee could prove a stumbling block for the clubs as Leipzig are still demanding a large sum for his services.

Werner's addition would help soften the blow of senior players Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery leaving. Neither player has been a key performer for Bayern this season, but both were excellent squad options out wide and made impacts off the bench. With Alphonso Davies still learning the trade in European football following his move from Major League Soccer, a more experienced winger is needed. Davies may find himself loaned out next season, along with Woo-yeong Jeong, as both need match experience to be ready for the first team.

Kingsley Coman has been excellent for the club, but is too injury prone to be trusted over the course of a full campaign. Serge Gnabry has flourished in his first season in Munich and has performed above expectations, becoming someone Kovac could rely on to get results. Robben and Ribery's exits mean that Gnabry is probably the only winger that there are no concerns over at the moment.

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As a result, Bayern have been linked with many of Europe's most promising wide players. Lille's Nicolas Pepe has been touted as an option for the Bavarians, with the winger's club boss even saying he will wear red next season while claiming he has the qualities to replace Robben or Ribery. A cheaper option could be Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi. Like Werner, he has just one year left on his current club deal and could be available this summer if the price is right. Bayern Munich are hoping that Hudson-Odoi's current injury also helps lower his price, with the winger still eager to leave the Blues following January's failed exit.

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen had been rumoured, but is not under consideration by Bayern's bosses. Rummenigge would like a marquee signing that can be used to help promote the Bayern brand around the world, with Antoine Griezmann fitting the profile perfectly after announcing his desire to leave Atletico Madrid. However, Hoeness's desire to sign German players and his claims that he would not spend more than €80m on a player could scupper a move for the Barcelona target.

Germany international Leroy Sane ticks all the boxes for both Hoeness and Rummenigge, while the 23-year-old has not been first choice at Manchester City. Hoeness confirmed that the club are interested in bringing Sane back to Germany, having missed out on him when he left Schalke for Manchester in 2016. City have been trying to renew Sane's contract for a year, but he has so far refused their advances. Hoeness claimed that Bayern would not pay more than €80m for another player this season, but Goal understands that City likely accept an offer of €100m (£88m/$112m) from Bayern if they decided to break their transfer record for a second time in 2019.

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