Bayern achieved a lot of transfer firsts during a summer to remember
Of the transfer windows of recent seasons, this one perhaps was the most peculiar.
The 2014 transfer window saw them depart with one of their prized academy players, poach another to talent for a fraction of the cost, and add a veteran midfielder that was a long time rival of many people in the squad. Javi Martínez's ACL tear in the DFL Supercup defined the window's frantic end, Bayern scrambling to find a quick replacement.
Not known as a selling team, Bayern Munich collected €53.4 million in transfer fees, the most the club has ever collected in a transfer window. As a result, Bayern ended up with a transfer profit even after spending €50.1 in transfer themselves.
Xabi Alonso (€10 million, Real Madrid)
On a deeper level, Bayern could have been working this deal for months, but it came out of the blue on the surface. He was one of the centerpieces of the Blancos midfield, a sturdy part of their otherwise wobbly spine. At 32-years-old, he is convinced to come to Germany, the third different domestic league he has played in, to a team that were his staunch rivals in two of his last three Champions League campaign.
He now steps in as short-term life support, providing depth in holding midfield so that fullbacks David Alaba and Philipp Lahm are not required to change their position. Without practice or a simple how-do-you-do, he starts for Guardiola against Schalke 04 and is the most involved player on the pitch. Alonso now creates a stark group of elders – him, Lahm, and Bastian Schweinsteiger – that can help direct Bayern through their fixture list. He could also end-up weakening Bayern's biggest rival as Real Madrid's spine withers away.
Mehdi Benatia (€26 million, AS Roma)
Even before the club actively sought a replacement for Martínez, Benatia was high on Bayern's short list. The scouted four of his matches late last season, and made several ploys to poach him away from AS Roma at their price. Once Martínez when down with his ACL tear, Bayern stepped up their efforts. They pried and pried until Roma eventually agreed to a fee closer to Bayern's evaluation. Bayern added the €4 million bonus payment for a Champions League victory as a sweetener, and eventually got the man they wanted.
Benatia now fortifies what was a weakness that hindered Bayern from repeating as winners of the Champions League. His tactical ramifications could be even more significant as Guardiola continues to toss around the idea of using three center backs. Bayern have improved their defense periodically over the last five years, and now they have to be the potential to board up attacks like never before.
Juan Bernat (€10 million, Valencia)
The purpose for Bernat's addition is something that is unascertainable at the moment, and perhaps the best way to gauge the transfer is to look on it retrospectively. He comes in with a stellar defensive record as a fullback, but his offensive skill set needs some refining. At the very least, he becomes a defensive alternative to David Alaba, who Guardiola could move around depending on Bayern's need.
What is curious about his transfer now his how he supplanted Diego Contento, a player who was part of Bayern's organization for 18 years before his transfer to to Girondins de Bordeaux. The chance that Bernat will get that Contento did not will be interesting to follow, for the Spaniard steps into the same situation that Contento was in. The scenario could easily arise where Bernat could request a move just like Contento did.
Sinan Kurt (€1.2 million, Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Sporting director Max Eberl did everything he could to swat Bayern away from his prized academy product, but he got stung in the end. He attempted to circumvent the limitations of Kurt's youth contract by signing the youngster to a 1-year deal that would activate following hie three-year youth contract. Kurt eventually felt trapped, and wanted to transfer to Bayern following the expiration of his youth contract. His hand tied, Eberl eventually reached an agreement to relinquish Kurt to the German champions.
The budding talent will be sent down to the reserves to continue his development. He will slip right into Erik ten Hag's starting lineup, plying in similar positions that Julian Green did a year ago. He signed a four-year deal upon his transfer, so he will have plenty of time to develop into a talent that Bayern can utilize once the Robbery era comes to a close.
Robert Lewandowski (Free Transfer, Borussia Dortmund)
The transfer was a maneuver that took a while to complete, but the effects once again shook the foundation of their biggest rival. Dortmund CEO Hans Joachim Watzke would not relinquish Lewandowski to Bayern easily, wanting the Pole to fulfill his contract, but ultimately he could not prevent the striker from refortifying Bayern's front line. He signed a five-year contract in January that will keep him at Bayern until 2019, right in the middle of his prime years as a footballer.
While the supporting cast around him at Dortmund was above average, Lewandowski now joins a team that is on a whole other level. Ribéry gave him a taste of what he can supply him on his left in the preseason, and Robben added his flavor in the opening match against VfL Wolfsburg. He was already playing at a high level up north, but he could turn into an annual Ballon d'Or candidate with the Stern des Südens.
Pepe Reina (€3 million, Liverpool)
The arrival of Reina had came with a lot of fanfare for a backup goalkeeper, but ultimately that is all he is, a backup goalkeeper. His transfer came at a crossroads at his career; he was going to sit behind Simon Mignolet at Liverpool, and the teams that were going to give him first team minutes were ones not close to European competition. Bayern meanwhile were going to have one more year of current backup Tom Starke, and lost their third goalkeeper to a free transfer. The amount Bayern paid for Reina is likely the same that a lower-level club would have paid for an above-average starter, but it gives their squad a strong insurance policy that most clubs do not have.
Sebastian Rode (Free Transfer, Eintracht Frankfurt)
Had Lewandowski not signed the same year, Rode's transfer to Bayern would have been the bargain of the summer. His career has not had the lushness of the Polish forward, but his potential is equally as exciting. He was a product of the return of Eintracht Frankfurt, a critical part Frankfurt's midfield even at such a young age. Several top Bundesliga teams were after his services, and Bayern was the club he decided to pick.
With Schweinsteiger unavailable, Rode has stepped in as the box-to-box midfielder. His engine has not stopped moving since his arrival, fighting as hard as he can to prove that he belongs in the starting XI. With so much still in flux, his role will not be completely defined until Schweinsteiger returns. If anything, he will return into a valuable depth piece in the midfield that can step in at a moments notice and run his tail off.
Diego Contento (€1 million, Grinodins de Bordeaux)
Contento, with years of speculation surrounding his name, will now get the playing time he has always wanted. Even in the preseason with many players on vacation, it was apparent that he did not have a place in the squad. Strange, how his career might have turned out different if Jupp Heynckes had not elected to turn David Alaba into a left back three seasons ago. Bayern have elected to keep half of his rights as well, leaving the potential to profit off of a breakout even if he is not in Munich.
He now moves to France, playing under former Bayern fullback Willy Sagnol at Girondins de Bordeaux. He has already made an indent in two matches, setting up Diego Rolan for the first of four headers against money bags AS Monaco. Bordeaux have yet to lose through four matches, sitting two points ahead of Paris Saint Germain. With three UEFA Champions League spots in Ligue 1, he could find himself back in Europe in no time, this time with a spot all to himself.
Julian Green (Loan, Hamburger SV)
As adamant as he was in the preseason about fighting for a place in the squad, there were just too many bodies in the way for him to develop in a good way. True to his word, Guardiola and Bayern evaluated what was going to be best for Green, and it turned out that a loan was the correct answer. He exchanges a red top for red shorts, and he has a direct path to playing time. Mirko Slomka's side has had a sluggish start so far, but Green could singlehandedly get Hamburg back on track.
Toni Kroos (€30 million, Real Madrid)
This will rank high as one of the bigger enigmas of a transfer in Bayern history. The difficulty in evaluating this transfer lies in the uncertainty around it. The situation with his contract appears on the surface as a simple discrepancy in evaluation; the Kroos camp had their price, Bayern had theirs, but why the two sides could not come together will forever remain a mystery. Bayern elected to give big contracts to Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, and Mario Götze, and for some unknown reason they were not willing to push the envelope with Kroos.
He now goes to Bayern's biggest international rivals, a team they have faced 10 times in the Champions League. He joins a young, vibrant midfield as the deep-lying playmaker, feeding the two most expensive wingers in Football history in Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. A team that just won la décima is looking for another, and Kroos will now be along for the ride, if not driving the bus.
Mario Mandžukić (€22 million, Atlético Madrid)
He was the man that made the Mario Gómez button collect dust, and he quickly became the man that had to hit the ol' dusty trail. He did not leave because he was unproductive, for his 48 goals in 88 matches was the highest production rate of his career. He was simply supplanted in a practical business transaction, a much cheaper and better version coming in to make him obsolete.
He in turn fills a void which Diego Costa left behind, joining a budding Champions League powerhouse in their quest to remain atop Real Madrid and Barcelona. The situation he is going to under Diego Simeone is arguably better for him than the one with Bayern in his two years. The Argentinian manager will laud his desire to track back and assist his club more than just the attacking end of the field. With two goals in four matches, he is the best option Atléti could have stumbled upon at the price that they paid.
Lukas Raeder (Free Transfer, Victória Setúbal)
He was the developmental goalkeeper Bayern brought in that will never develop. People will remember him by the goal that he allowed to prevent a reserve promotion rather than the goals that he stopped while he was with the first team. His contract expiring at the age of 20, Bayern were not convinced enough to give him backup goalkeeper money to stick around. He thus goes to Portugal where he can start week-in, week-out for a top-tier side and build his career as a goalkeeper.
Alessandro Schöpf (€400,000, Nurnberg)
Signed to a professional contract a year ago, Schöpf had spent parts of two years with the reserves and was destined to do so again. Bayern elected to do what they did with Emre Can; sell him to a team and put in a buyback clause. The discrepancies between his transfer an Can's explains the potential the two have, and it could easily be the last time we see Schöpf's name mentioned with Bayern. That said, Nürnberg has been the training ground for many Bayern prospects, including Breno and Mehmet Ekici. He has played every minute for former Bayern defender Valérian Ismaël thus far, and he will get a good run-in while Nürnberg tries to find their way back to the Bundesliga.
Daniel van Buyten (Retired)
An eight year run for Daniel van Buyten at Bayern Munich has inevitably come to an end. Just two months after announcing his international retirement before the World Cup, Daniel van Buyten hangs up his cleats for good. Even at 36-years-old, he could still play at a high level to continue if he wanted to, but he elected to call it quits after helping a young Belgium team into the quarterfinals. His girth will be missed.
Patrick Weihrauch (Bayern Munich II)
Signed to a two-year professional contract at the age of 18, he never panned out to be the player that neither Bayern nor Germany thought he could be. There were stretches where he could be productive with the reserves, but he eventually got lost in the pile of youth players Bayern were trying to bring to their first team. There was a chance he could sign with a top-tier club – the Eredivisie's Vitesse was linked to him at one point – but ultimately the options were not good enough for him to want to leave the reserves. He is on another two year contract, during which time he will try to convince a second- or third-tier team to take a chance on him.
With his run with Costa Rica in the World Cup, Keylor Navas was the target of many top clubs. Bayern were ready to match his buyout clause with Levante, but the 27-year-old goalkeeper elected to transfer to Real Madrid instead. Los Blancos eventually sold Diego Lopez to AC Milan, making Navas the first option should Iker Casillas's decline continue.
Sami Khedira was one of the options Bayern was looking for to replace Martínez. The 26-year-old appeared on his way out of Madrid with Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez coming in. Real Madrid elected to part with Ángel di María and Alonso instead, and the German international will stay until his contract expires in 2015.
Bayern Munich II
With their failure to reach the 3. Bundesliga, many of Bayern's out-of-contract players elected to continue their development elsewhere. Many, however, left before Bayern II retained a spot in the Regionalliga playoff, so not all of the departures were due to the squad's failure. Here is a look at the top three arrivals and departures from the reserve team.
- Gerrit Wegkamp (Free Transfer, Fortuna Düsseldorf): Unable to break into Düsseldorf's team, Wegkamp went down a tier to take an opportunity to work with some of Germany's greatest players. He has scored five goals in nine games, and with his two year contract, he could slingshot himself back into the upper levels of the Bundesliga.
- Ivan Lucic (€400,000, SV Reid): With the departure of Raeder, Lucic becomes the next young goalkeeper that Bayern could develop into a backup for Manuel Neuer. Bayern signed him to a 3-year contract, so do not be alarmed if he does not start right away.
- Angelos Oikonomou (Promotion, Bayern Munich U19): After his performance in the UEFA Youth Champions League, Oikonomou was one of two players promoted to the reserves, taking Pierre-Emile Højbjerg's spot. He has now become a critical part of the spine of Erik ten Hag's side, and a terrific holding midfield prospect.
- Raif Husic (€100,000, SV Werder Bremen): The 18-year-old played many matches down the stretch that lead to their Regionalliga Bayern title. Instead of keeping with the reserves, Bayern elected to send him north to Bremen, where he is already the backup goalkeeper, retaining a buy-back option.
- Vladimir Rankovic (Free Transfer, Hannover 96): He provided a lot of important service for Tobias Schweinsteiger, Green, and Friesenbichler, but Bayern elected not to give him a professional contract. He now joins a Hannover side that could use a few extra options at fullback, although he has started his season with their reserves.
- Kevin Friesenbichler (Free Transfer, SL Benfica B): He scored 15 goals with the reserves, and Bayern did not have an academy player to replace him. He has elected to go to Portugal, and Benfica in turn have sent him to Poland to play for Lechia Gdansk.
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