Worrying trend emerging at the Allianz Arena.
Although it was almost unthinkable a year ago – with a superb treble win in the bag and the world renowned Pep Guardiola set to take charge of the club – Bayern Munich look under serious threat of collapse as the new season approaches, with two key players leaving and possibly more to follow.
Toni Kroos has today been confirmed as a Real Madrid player, representing a major blow to the intricate system deployed at Bayern. Over the last few years, particularly in their treble-winning season, Kroos has been at the heart of everything in the club’s midfield, emerging as one of the best ball-playing midfielders in Europe. Still only 24, Bayern have lost a player as he approaches his peak, and it’s not clear why. After all, with such total dominance in the Bundesliga over the last two years and a great record in Europe, what reason would there be to move elsewhere? Money no doubt plays a part, and it seems that the Bavarian giants perhaps made a mistake in not putting his wages on a par with some of the other big names at the club.
After Real snatched their European crown from Bayern last season, they have now snapped up a world class player, now complete with World Cup winners’ medal to boot after a fantastic tournament in Brazil as Germany lifted the trophy. ‘La Decima’ – the club’s tenth European Cup title won last season, could now be the start of many to come in the next few years as creative genius Kroos links up with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu, as well as working under Carlo Ancelotti, who oversaw the development of Andrea Pirlo from an attacking midfielder to one of the best deep-lying midfield players of his generation during their time at AC Milan.
Along with Kroos, Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic has left the club for a move to Spanish champions Atletico Madrid. Seemingly undervalued by Bayern despite 48 goals and eight trophies in just two seasons at the Allianz Arena, the 28-year-old is another who will be playing his football in La Liga next year, after citing something of a dispute with manager Guardiola as one of the reasons for his departure.
Of course, in his place will come one of the Bundesliga’s best players in Robert Lewandowski on a free, but it leaves Guardiola’s side short of backup options if the Polish goal machine gets injured or hits a poor run of form, as well as adding to the feeling that the squad that swept all before them a few years ago is getting ripped apart.
Bastian Schweinsteiger has also reportedly rocked the club by expressing a desire to leave for a new challenge this summer, while Javi Martinez is attracting interest after seemingly falling out of favour with Guardiola last season for no obvious reason. Factoring in Philipp Lahm’s unnecessary positional change as well, one can’t help but feel the club’s new manager is determined to put his own stamp on the side that did so well under Juup Heynckes, regardless of the benefits to the team and its performances.
Lahm performed much better for Germany at the World Cup this summer after Joachim Low moved him back to right-back. When he plays there he is arguably the best in the world in his position, but will Guardiola accept he was wrong in trying him in a different role, particularly as his side now look set to be short of options in that position due to key players wanting to leave?
A good transfer window from here could of course change everything, but so far for Bayern it should serve as a worrying sign that so many players are looking to get away from the club. What reasons lie beneath this surprise exodus of their stars?
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