Updated: Jun 4, 2020
Bayern Munich have dominated German Football throughout their great history. To say they have been undergoing a 'rebuild' is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, given they've won the Bundesliga every year since 12/13 and are on track to win their 8th consecutive German title.
However, many football fans can't help but think they've been a 'nearly' side in Europe for several years now. They won the UCL back in 2012/13 but have since tripped up every year in the knock-out stages. Bayern Munich have reached the semi-finals four times since they last won it. Last year saw their worst performance in the Champions League since 2010/11, falling to European Champions to-be, Liverpool, in the Round of 16. It's fair to say being defeated by Liverpool doesn't make you a bad side. In fact, Bayern's European record over the last decade is still one of the greatest in Europe - consistently near the top.
So why are we considering them a rebuilding squad?
Ok, certain positions have been consistently world-class over the last decade and can't be considered a weak-link. Starting at Number 1. Manuel Neuer is still an elite keeper. Injury-free, consistently excellent. No imminent rebuild statement needed given he's been at the top since Bayern's European Champion season. But at 34, management will be more than aware that he's not got another decade in him. It is worth side-noting rising talents, such as Fruchtl and Hoffman, that have come through Bayern's academy and will be eyeing up a first team breakthrough in coming years. However, this is the last position Bayern will consider passing the baton to the youth, and will likely hand over to an experienced keeper outside of their current squad. Transfer rumours suggest Ter Stegen is being targeted as a replacement, whilst Nubel has been a confirmed transfer in from Schalke.
- Manuel Neuer, 34.
- Alexander Nubel, 23 (confirmed next season).
- Christian Fruchtl, 20.
The middle of the Munich's defence has boasted some iconic names historically. A huge array of talents are now in the ranks, though injury has severely plagued the last couple of seasons. It's been ever-increasingly difficult to establish a centre-back pairing, let alone a consistent back four. Jerome Boateng is the most experienced name on the list, having played in the heart of their defence since 2012. However, the 31 year old has only started 60% of the games this season. Lucas Hernandez was acquired from Atletico Madrid last season for a fee around £70M. But the 24 year old has only featured in 11 games this season due to injury. Niklas Sule, Germany's 24 year old with 24 caps, is the most impressive amongst the ranks both in stature and statistics. Injury has riddled his season though, leaving him sidelined for 70% of matchdays due to cruciate ligament damage. Alas, Munich have bootstrapped their way through European domination so far this season. David Alaba, naturally a left-back, has put a shift in through the middle. Javi Martinez, a conventional defensive midfielder and veteran at Bayern, has partnered up wherever possible. In Bayern's mouthwatering destruction of Tottenham (no disrespect spurs fans, but Munich were sensational!), Boateng paired with Sule in the first leg and Martinez in the second. Martinez too has suffered injury this season - knee problems on Matchday 1, Thigh Problems Matchday 9 and a serious muscle tear has kept him sidelined since the start of 2020. When all players are fit, the combination of youth and experience will be formidable. Sule and Hernandez will likely take the starting spots, whilst the veterans will fill in when necessary. Little reinforcement is needed in this department unless injury becomes more apparent; Lars Lukas Mai, a young talent, may see more game time should selection be limited.
- Jerome Boateng, 31
- Lucas Hernandez, 24
- Niklas Sule, 24
- Lars Lukas Mai, 20
- Javi Martinez, 31 (DM)
A huge gap was left when Philip Lahm retired in 2017. He was an anchor for the club. Nobody had been there longer. Nobody was looked up to more. He'd played through Munich's ranks through the 90s, and been part of the senior team since 2002. When a leader moves on, especially one as talented as Lahm, it's expected to take time to fill the void. Since his retirement, young talents have taken to the field in an attempt to prove themselves worthy of running the right flank. Benjamin Pavard, a world-cup winner in 2018 then aged 22, has played relatively consistently for the German giants this season, though he struggles for pace against zippy counterattacking sides. Joshua Kimmich has filled the gaps on occasion, flexing his versatility as a central midfielder and fullback. Kimmich has it all. At 25 years old, he's finding his prime, though he'll certainly want to stick to the middle of the park in seasons to come. Odriozola doesn't look set to stay in Munich after his loan spell, and his only contributions to the club this season are 63 minutes of Bundesliga Football and breaking Ivan Perisic's ankle in training. Bayern need a RB replacement this summer if they are to finish building a UCL-challenging side.
- Benjamin Pavard, 24.
- Joshua Kimmich, 25.
- Alvaro Odriozola, 24 (on loan from Real Madrid).
Alphonso Davies has stepped up on the left hand side of the back four. A shining talent amongst a squad of diamonds, he's made David Alaba's return look increasingly uncertain. Reports suggest Alaba will be departing this summer. If that's the case, Davies will more than likely retain his spot and a new acquisition to reinforce this spot will emerge. Lucas Hernandez has previously been capable of playing as a full-back, though we imagine Bayern will want to stop boot-strapping secondary positions and play to their strengths proactively. A second left-back would nicely fill the gap and provide cover and competition to the young Canadian.
- Alphonso Davies, 19.
- David Alaba, 27.
The Bayern Munich midfield is solid. Kimmich has impressed throughout this term, whilst Corentin Tolisso has also been a huge asset when fit. Tolisso, aged 25, shows great vision and passing ability whilst covering plenty of the pitch. Thiago is the star in the middle of the pitch. At 29, he's now in the prime of his career. Although he's not chipping in with goals and assists like some similar European stars, the Spanish International pulls the strings and has played 75% of League minutes. Leon Goretzka, another 25 year old, has 15 league appearances contributing 3 goals and 5 assists. He's another talent that excites fans and offers competition and cover to the highly-skilled midfield. Michael Cuisance is another option to keep an eye on. The central midfielder joined Munich at the start of this season for around £10M and is yet to make an impression. Adrian Fein, a 21 year old defensive midfielder, is a confirmed transfer in from Hamburg. This midfield is loaded with talent. It's clear evidence that Bayern have focussed on developing slightly younger stars in the hope that they can conquer Europe in coming years.
- Joshua Kimmich, 25
- Corentin Tolisso, 25
- Leon Goretzka, 25
- Thiago, 29
- Javi Martinez, 31 (DM)
- Michael Cuisance, 20
- Adrian Fein, 21 (confirmed next season)
The wings are where Bayern have already focussed their rebuild. With the iconic Robben and Ribery no longer a part of the squad, Bayern have spent the last two seasons onboarding Europe's best and brightest. Kingsley Coman has been a core part of this rebuild, though the speedster has struggled with injury all too often. Serge Gnabry has excelled this season, becoming one of the hottest talents in world football. The 24 year old has 17 goals and 10 assists in the UCL and Bundesliga combined, and looks to be a deadly winger in seasons to come. Ivan Perisic joined on loan from Inter Milan last summer, offering bundles of experience where Robben and Ribery left, however, he broke his ankle at the start of February. It's uncertain how fit he will be to return to the starting XI as Bundesliga kicks off again in one week. Coutinho is another star amongst the ranks, on loan from Barcelona, who can play on the wing or through the centre. The Brazilian has posted good numbers this season, though it looks as though he'll be on the move this summer. Leroy Sane has been heavily linked to Bayern for a long time - he is the leading candidate to replace Coutinho. Bayern will need to build at least one more first-team talent into this department should Perisic and Coutinho both leave. Youngsters from Bayern's academy have been pushing through to the senior team; Sarpreet Singh, 21, featured in one Bundesliga match this season and has posted great numbers for the second team. He's a likely candidate to join the first team squad regularly next season.
- Kingsley Coman, 23
- Serge Gnabry, 24
- Philippe Coutinho, 27 (on loan from Barcelona)
- Ivan Perisic, 31 (on loan from Inter Milan)
- Sarpreet Singh, 21 (Bayern II)
Robert Lewandowski is still in his prime. There's no doubt. Yes, he's 31. But he's also arguably Europe's best striker this season. 36 Goals and 5 assists in 29 Games in UCL/Bundesliga. Outrageous. But this is another position, much like GK, that Bayern have big boots to fill in the foreseeable future. Lewandowski looks in great form and fine fitness, but an injury setback at his age poses a serious threat. Bayern's beloved second-striker, Thomas Muller, is 30 years old now. He's posted 6 goals 16 assists in the Bundesliga this term. Both strike options aren't 'too old', but are certainly not youngsters. A serious injury to either of these stars would pose two big questions. Firstly, who would fill their boots during the period of injury? Secondly, would early-retirement be on the cards?
When you take a look at other European superclubs, there seem to be two approaches. Real Madrid, much like Bayern Munich, have built depth in creative options, whilst they fully depend on Benzema, 32, continuing as the out-and-out goal scorer. They have an injured Luka Jovic, brought in this season to start the replacement process. The youthful option is a back-up, but there's a vast gap between the two striker options that is far from being bridged. In fact Jovic could be on the move again, leaving Madrid to find their next true striker, after appearing just 15 times this season. Haaland is rumoured, of course, to be a replacement. A glance at Man City shows a far more integrated approach. They've relied on Aguero, 32, for years. They understand he's no longer the future of the club, one serious injury won't see him back topping the Premier League. Jesus has been played regularly for the last two seasons, and is now a 23 year old almost-ready to take the reins. Manchester United took an almost sacrificial approach, letting go of Lukaku and Sanchez to place their goal-scoring requirements in the youngsters Rashford, Martial and Greenwood. Should they find themselves in the UCL next season, it will be interesting to see how they challenge Europe's best defences.
Bayern need to start seriously bridging the gap or they risk having no established and proven striker up tops in seasons to come.
Joshua Zirkzee was called upon a few times this season. An academy graduate aged 19 with an eye for a goal. He made an instant impact across his appearances, scoring a couple of goals across back to back matches as a substitute in December - 2 goals in 8 minutes. He's the most fitting back-up option right now, but needs far more minutes to judge whether he'll be capable of taking the reins from Lewandowski. Jann-Fiete Arp is another youngster that is climbing the ranks. Aged 20, he looks as though he'll be breaking into the first team next season too. But there's a vast gap between Lewandowski's proven consistency and a youngster's raw potential.
In an ideal world, both Muller and Lewandowski can contribute as they have done for another couple of seasons whilst the youngsters earn their minutes and develop. If this happens, Bayern have great talents in the production line and will look very hot in attack in 3 years time. However, Bayern risk just one set back to their veterans to cause a forced development of their young talents. This could prove an opportunity for Zirkzee or Arp - cometh the hour, cometh the man. But it could also force them into unproven depths where they are simply not ready to lead a superclub's attacking line. Time will tell. The safest option would be for Bayern to consider loan options in more mature strikers than Zirkzee and Arp to provide cover for Lewandowski and relieve the expectations of the yougnsters. Alternatively, they continue their bootstrapping - many of Bayern's stars have learned to fit in the dynamic system and play a second position. Perhaps a winger is forced to play up tops. Bayern should know better than this though... given they taught that lesson to Tottenham. Every team needs a natural striker.
- Lewandowski, 31
- Muller, 30
- Zirkzee, 19
- Arp, 20.
Wrap Up: There are a host of players and positions that have been identified by Football Index Traders in Munich's set up. Alphonso Davies has rocketed into the Top 200 off of his stellar performances. Kimmich and Gnabry have also shined this season on the Index. Lewandowski offers huge PB returns, though his age is restraining heavy investment. Zirkzee has been identified as a wonderkid next in line to succeed his Polish teammate, but lack of playing time leaves an element of caution in his investment. This could, however, be a hugely rewarding option given there are no clear strikers outlined to join Bayern next season. Arp is an unproven wonderkid who's risen just shy of the Top 200. He's another lucrative option should Bayern place their faith in him.