Bayern Munich has had a low-key summer transfer season so far, signing two players on free transfers and another one for only 10 million euros. There is plenty of time for new targets to come in, but manager Pep Guardiola could be content with keeping his core of players familiar with him and his possession based system this year, and adding a few young budding prospects for the future.
One of Bayern Munich’s free transfers this summer transfer season was Robert Lewandowski, who let his contract run out at Borussia Dortmund before making his move to the German champions. Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in world football at the moment. In his four seasons at Dortmund he scored 103 goals in 185 appearances, and was the top scorer in the Bundesliga last year. He is rarely injured and has excellent fitness, able to run at length for 90 minutes, and is just as likely to finish a goal from distance, as he is from poaching in the six-yard box. Lewandowski was officially unveiled on Wednesday July 9 to the Bayern Munich faithful. He was given the No.9 shirt, which was previously held by Mario Mandzukic, who made his way to Athéltico Madrid this summer for a reported fee of 22 million euros.
The other two players that Bayern Munich has signed this summer transfer season are Sebastian Rode and Juan Bernat. Bundesliga fans will be familiar with the young Rode, who joined Bayern on a free transfer after his contract with Eintracht Frankfurt expired in June. Rode plays defensive midfield primarily, but with the likes of Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Martinez ahead of him, he will find minutes hard to come by, even with the departure of Toni Kroos to Real Madrid.
Juan Bernat is Bayern’s only signing who has cost money this summer. He came from Valencia for a fee of 10 million euros supposedly, and will be playing left back or left-winger for the Bundesliga club. It will be hard for both Alaba and Bernat to juggle playing time, since they both have primarily played left back in their club careers, therefore Alaba could be seeing more time as a midfielder, a role he often plays in international games for Austria.
The rumors that are surrounding the German champions are mostly for a new center defender and a backup keeper. Dante and Jerome Boateng are the two starting central defenders for the upcoming season, and with Daniel Van Buyten released by the club, it only leaves Holger Badstuber, Diego Contento, Sebastian Rode, and Javier Martinez as replacements. Badstuber has been plagued by injuries to his knees the past two years, Contento is apparently not content with his role on the team so is likely to leave, and Rode and Martinez both are better suited for central midfield than defense.
The primary candidates to come in are Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Roma’s Mehdi Benatia. Hummels has established a good working relationship with Jerome Boateng over the course of the World Cup, where the two played in central defense a fair share of games for the winning German National Team. Hummels may also be unhappy with the gap continuing to grow between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Benatia has been linked to a number of clubs around the world, notably Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City. According to some, Pep Guardiola is prepared to shell out the 38 million euros that Roma is asking for the star defender. Roma has also been reportedly interested in Bayern winger, Xherdan Shaqiri, so it would not be surprising if there were to be a player swap deal with extra money on the side offered by the Italian club.
In terms of goalkeepers, Bayern only have two on their senior team sheet at the moment, Tom Starke and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Golden Glove winner, Manuel Neuer. Clearly Neuer is the number one, but could benefit from some younger competition to keep him focused. The name that many believe will be brought in as back up, is Keylor Navas. The Costa Rica international plays his club ball for Levante, but really impressed many at the World Cup with three clean sheets in five matches in Brazil. Guardiola is prepared to spend 10 million euros for the 27-year-old shot stopper.
Bayern will look to grow on their Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal title-winning season next year with a possible Champions League victory. Guardiola has had a year to implement his ideas into the club, and anything other than two trophies will be seen as a failure next season. Even though Bayern Munich have not spent big in the summer transfer window so far, they have kept a solid core of players to grow their squad and continue being a dominant force in European football for years to come.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash