Three days on from being crowned champions of Germany yet again, Die Roten have pinched Borussia Dortmund’s captain and arguably the most-exciting teenager in European football.
he Bayern Munich squad paraded around Ingolstadt’s Audi Sportpark on Saturday after claiming the Bundesliga shield dressed in commemorative t-shirts emblazoned with the wording ‘4EVER’.
It was a nod to the fact that Bayern had won four titles in a row since wresting control of German football back from Borussia Dortmund and a statement that they planned to be kings of the country for a long time yet.
And to look around the dressing room was to confirm the fact that Bayern are in great shape for the years ahead. Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Javi Martinez all signed fresh contracts this season, extending until 2021. Douglas Costa and Joshua Kimmich are signed up until 2020. Robert Lewandowski, despite the current contract stand-off with the club’s board, is still tied to Bayern until 2019 along with a clutch of other Bayern stars.
Not content with assembling what is already the most complete squad German football has ever seen, Bayern on Tuesday went further and shocked the world with a double signing that will have executives at rival European super clubs looking on with envy.
Three days on from being confirmed champions, Bayern announced deals for Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels and Benfica’s latest young sensation Renato Sanches.
The latter, should all objectives be met during the life-cycle of his five-year Bayern deal, will end up costing €80 million. That is the joint-second highest price ever paid for a player under the age of 21. His signing is a message to the top clubs in Europe that Bayern will not be beaten for the best young talents – regardless of the price.
Manchester United will be feeling particularly aggrieved as it is well documented that they pressed hard for the fledgling Portugal international. Bayern, though, acted decisively having scouted the 18-year-old all season long. Coming up against Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals will surely have helped progress the deal too away from United’s prying eyes.
“FC Bayern has been watching Renato Sanches for a long period,” said Bayern CEO Rummenigge Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “We’re pleased we’ve been able to sign him despite big-name international competition. Renato is dynamic, a good tackler and a technically skilled midfielder who’ll add even more strength to our team.”
Bayern already have an all-star team and under new coach Carlo Ancelotti will have greater balance in defence and midfield than under Pep Guardiola. Hummels will come in to fill what has become a problem position for Bayern in central defence. Sanches looks as though he will supplant Arturo Vidal or Thiago in the midfield pecking order. He is a player like Vidal who is always looking to drive forward and will add great thrust through the centre of Bayern’s play.
It is one thing identifying talent – plenty of clubs do that; it is another making the club an attractive enough prospect for top quality players to join. Bayern, unlike many of their European rivals, have that in abundance. Not many players, no matter the stage of their careers, would turn them down now. In Sanches they are bringing in tomorrow’s talent. In Hummels’ case, today’s.
“We are delighted that Mats Hummels has decided in favour of FC Bayern,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Mats is one of the best centre-backs in the world. With him we will increase the quality in our team even further.”
A 27-year-old World Cup winner with two Bundesliga titles in his back pocket, players like him don’t become available all that often. He has grown weary of barren seasons at Dortmund and intends to win the big prizes, the Champions League included, and he is best placed to do that at Bayern.
With these two signings, Bayern send out a massive signal of intent. Some clubs would still be basking in the glory of a title win but Bayern simply throw the shield on the pile of trinkets they’ve won in recent seasons and move on to the next target.
Whether it’s fully established international players like Hummels and Robert Lewandowski or prospects like Sanches and Kingsley Coman – the stars of today and tomorrow are flocking to Bayern in their droves.
And the man coming in to oversee it all knows how to handle big personalities and great players better than perhaps anyone in the game. Ancelotti already had an attractive job on his hands, walking into the Allianz Arena and helping them to go further in the Champions League as a matter of course.
Now that prospect has become even richer as Bayern have backed him in the transfer market before he has even set foot in Bavaria. Now that’s forward planning.
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