Serge Gnabry is not known for a particularly grim look, but who knows, maybe it will work anyway. FC Bayern will start the second half of the season at Hertha BSC on Sunday, Gnabry will also be part of the squad, despite his problems with the Achilles tendon. For coach Hansi Flick, this increases the number of experienced substitute players to the staggering sum of two after the past, difficult personnel days (the other one will probably be Ivan Perisic). It is still uncertain whether Gnabry will be able to make a substitution, but maybe it will help if he warms up and looks grim, and one or two Hertha defenders shake. It would be possible.
FC Bayern has not had a similar trend-setting opening game in the second half of the season. With four points behind league leaders Leipzig, the team can no longer afford to lose points in order to continue playing for the championship. And so half of the original plan is already threatened, because this plan was: become a master and prepare in parallel for the big transfers in summer. But the other half doesn’t work properly either. Since six of 17 field players were injured or battered recently, the club is almost forced to make transfers in winter, a draw or even a defeat in Berlin would increase the pressure to act. And so the club clings to every hope, be it that Gnabry could look grim outside.
Whether FC Bayern will sign players in winter, and if so how many, is open almost two weeks before the end of the transfer period; Flick demands at least two, especially a right-back – out loud Sport-Bild the club strives for the Belgian Thomas Meunier from Paris Saint-Germain. A player like Meunier, 28, would relieve Flick of a problem in the short term, and he would have a more stable defense. But that Hasan Salihamidzic, as sports director responsible for transfers, has not yet brought this player to him is also due to the fact that Salihamidzic prefers long-term planning and does not want to ruin these considerations by hasty short-circuit transfers. Because every million that the sports director invests in winter will be missing in summer – in a summer in which Bayern will probably invest more than ever before.
In the background, the Bavarians are reportedly continuing to work for Leroy Sané, 24, whom they chose in the summer as a king’s transfer – until he injured his cruciate ligament and stayed with Manchester City. The winger would probably cost a high double-digit million amount, probably even a three-digit one. It would therefore be as expensive as Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz, 20, in which the Munich company should also be interested. In this category, transfers are also about economic reason, says Salihamidzic. Should Sané and Havertz come to Munich, the club will certainly not sign loan player Philippe Coutinho from FC Barcelona, at least not for the agreed 120 million euros.
But whether these transfers will work depends on whose word weighs how much at Bayern. Because like the team, the management level is still in the midst of a change.
Is Kahn holding back on his ambition?
The decision-making process was still clear last summer. Salihamidzic and chief scout Marco Neppe looked for possible approaches, they coordinated closely with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and Uli Hoeneß, then the head of the supervisory board, also kept them regularly informed. Hoeneß is now only a regular member of the Supervisory Board, which does not mean, however, that he would like to be less informed. Herbert Hainer, Hoeneß ‘successor, is also considered to be one who can be strong internally; so far he is said to have held back from Bayern.
And then Oliver Kahn joins as a new board member and with him the uncertainty as to whether he will restrain his ambition or want to have a say. That Rummenigge has not yet commented on winter transfers can therefore be understood as a strategic silence, the experienced tactician probably does not want to offer a target. He senses that the big issues will only come this year.
Whether FC Bayern will handle the expensive transfers in the summer will not be a question of money, not of the new Audi deal, which is supposed to bring a mid-double-digit million amount a year. It is more a question of harmony: do all the decision-makers agree, or do debilitating situations arise?
Should Hansi Flick win – with or without a grim-looking Gnabry – in Berlin, that would give his bosses time to start with. Time that you could, for example, dedicate to the question of which coach you actually want to build this expensive squad for and whether this coach should simply continue to be called Hansi Flick.