Bayern Munich defeated PSG and won the Champions League in August 2020
It’s seen as the end of an era – but how is it that a Bayern Munich with a new look for next season already looks like a tremendous force?
The Bundesliga champions are arguably the best team in Europe to take a 4-1 lead against Lazio in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday evening.
Many are strongly advised to defend last season’s European crown, but behind the scenes Bayern management is already working on an overhaul – from painful experience, complacency can lead to decline.
Bayern made this mistake after that Champions League victory 2013. At the time they looked as unbeatable as they did last August, but then quickly deteriorated. They don’t want to suffer the same fate again.
And with players who made almost 1,000 club appearances on the way out the door, Bayern made rapid progress in order to always be one step ahead of the others.
Future backline already in place
Determined to keep the wage structure as balanced as possible, the club have ended negotiations with defense attorney David Alaba, who has reportedly been demanding an annual wage of £ 17m for a possible contract extension.
Another prominent name to leave this summer is 32-year-old Jerome Boateng as Bayern have decided not to extend the contract that has earned him £ 8.5m a year.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern’s chairman, said in February that he thought Boateng was playing a “satisfactory campaign” but that it was not enough to stay committed to a defender who had played more than 350 games for the club.
The third defensive player to leave Bayern at the end of the season is Javi Martinez, another 32-year-old whose contract is about to expire.
Bayern have finished contract negotiations with David Alaba (left) but Lucas Hernandez will play a key role in next season’s defense
However, Bayern have already completed their plans for next year’s backline. Lucas Hernandez, who like Alaba can play as a center-back and left-back, and Niklas Sule will have more responsibility than before.
Tanguy Nianzou, who signed for Paris St-Germain last summer, will have the chance to prove himself after being out injured this season. And Dayot Upamecano will take on Boateng’s role as the center-back of the powerhouse. Back in February, FC Bayern triggered a buyout clause of GBP 36.4 million in Upamecano’s contract with RB Leipzig, which dashed the hopes of the Premier League clubs that had targeted the French.
Last summer, FC Bayern signed a number of new signings at the last minute when coach Hansi Flick demanded an increase in the squad because he felt that his team could not cope with the tight schedule. Nevertheless, it was very unusual for Bayern to make decisions in a hurry.
Usually, the club wants to do most of its transfer business before competitors so it doesn’t have to get involved in bidding wars. Upamecano’s signature was textbook Bavaria. Instead of negotiating with multiple candidates for the fourth and remaining central defender, they committed themselves to a proven player with an appropriate buyout clause early on.
The same applies to the signing of Omar Richards, the 23-year-old left-back from Reading, who has just signed a contract with Bayern and will replace Alphonso Davies next season.
Life after Lewandowski
Bayern didn’t just work on their defense, however. They recently renewed Jamal Musiala’s contract and reportedly offered the 18-year-old prospect a lucrative five-year deal. Management wanted to make sure that offers from clubs like Barcelona and Liverpool are turned down.
Going back to the mistakes Bayern made after winning the Champions League in 2013, they seem to have stuck to their old guard for too long. While Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were crucial to their success, they remained starting players after their heyday.
Jamal Musiala scored his first goal in the Champions League at the age of 17 years and 363 days
Bayern have recognized that as good as Thomas Müller or Robert Lewandowski there will be a time when they have to be replaced. Musiala, for example, is considered to be Muller’s successor. And a middle-class center forward will be the next target on Bayern’s transfer list.
Manager Flick recently made some ambiguous comments on Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland, which has a £ 65m buyout clause that can be triggered in 2022 – Lewandowski will turn 34 this August.
Mix between youth and experience
The future Bayern team already looks like an impressive force, with the perfect mix of young talents like Upamecano and Davies and more experienced players like Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.
Bayern’s style of play hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years and there is no reason to believe that it will anytime soon. The German master signs and develops players who fit into their system.
Staying at the top of European football for more than a couple of years is a tough job, but Bayern seem to have the right ingredients and strategic approach to make sure they don’t slide down anytime soon.