With the media attention still struggling to die down after Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund made it Germany 8 Spain 1, in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals; the Bundesliga will now experience a massive popularity spike worldwide. Bayern are now strengthening, preparing for the exciting Guardiola era which will bring more media coverage to the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund, the team who look most likely to topple the titans Bayern, have confirmed the loss of their star player Mario Götze to rivals Bayern, and may also lose Robert Lewandowski, again to Bayern.
The best teams in football strengthen when they are on top, keeping one step ahead of their opponents. Sir Alex Ferguson is a brilliant manager at doing this, always adding to his squad even if they have won the previous seasons title. This summer, there is no doubt that Ferguson will invest in more players, despite Manchester United cruising to their 20th title. Newcastle United, who had an outstanding 2011/2012 season, finishing 5th, did not invest while they were ahead of the remaining 15 teams. This has proved to be a massive mistake, with Newcastle now lying just 5 points above the relegation zone. If Newcastle had purchased their January signings in the previous summer, they might find themselves in a higher position. After all, the squad would have had more time to gel and settle. Bayern München have done exactly the right thing, making their squad even stronger.
Bayern have announced the signings of Mario Götze and Jan Kirchoff. To most non-German readers, Götze is a familiar name, whereas Kirchoff is not, but I assure you that both are world class signings, as I will explain soon. Bayern also appear to be very close to signing Dortmund’s hat-trick hero Robert Lewandowski, beating Manchester United to his signature. Mario Götze will bring a lot of pace and dribbling ability to Bayern’s 4-2-3-1. He will be able to play across the ‘3’ in the formation, with his direct running and creativity causing big threats. Pep Guardiola may also want to deploy him as a false number 9, like he did with Messi at Barcelona. Götze has occasionally played in this role with the national team, with some success. The £31.5million fee for Götze is perceived by many as too expensive. However, Götze is just 20 years old and has a brilliant career in front of him. He has been capped 22 times for Germany, scoring 5 goals, and was described by the former German Football Association’s technical director, Matthias Sammer, as “one of the best talents that we’ve ever had”. The more unfamiliar name, Kirchoff, is a 22 year old centre back from FSV Mainz 05. He signed a pre-contract with Bayern in January and will join them at the end of the season. He is regarded by Germans as one of the best centre-backs in the Bundesliga. Bayern acquiring him as a free-agent is an excellent piece of business, perhaps Guardiola might try to mould him into a ball playing centre back, like Gerard Piqué. Robert Lewandowski would bring more quality to Bayern’s fabulous front line. More rumours and quotes are coming out every day about Lewandowski’s potential move to Bayern. The agent of Jupp Heynckes, Quique Reyes, said in an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena Cope: “Robert Lewandowski has already signed with Bayern Munich.” A day after the interview with Reyes, and just minutes after Dortmund had demolished Real Madrid, Lewandowski’s agent said in an interview with Sport Bild: “We have reached an agreement with another club and intend to switch clubs this summer”. While that other club could well be Manchester United, who have shown interest in Lewandowski, almost signing him instead of Robin Van-Persie, Quique Reyes’ comments to Cope hint that it is Bayern. However, Lewandowski’s agent may be trying to engineer a move to Bayern, as agents often do. An official Bayern statement supports this, saying; “FC Bayern, contrary to these reports, do not have any contract with Robert Lewandowski.” This twist may be some courteous statement from Bayern, or maybe the club Lewandowski is going to is Manchester United. The Pole’s hat-trick against Real Madrid showed just what he could bring to the German champions though. Guardiola would surely play him as a lone forward, but with Guardiola one can never be sure.
The loss of Götze and the potential loss of Lewandowski will hit Borussia Dortmund very hard. Götze had formed a brilliant partnership with Marco Reus, with Franz Beckenbauer saying “…as a classic duo there is nobody better than the prolific Reus and Götze.” Götze has made 50 appearances this season for club and country, scoring 19 goals and assisting 22. He is an integral part of Dortmund’s midfield; Jürgen Klopp showed his bitter disappointment in comments about losing his starlet. He said “Gotze told me Pep wants him to play tiki-taka”, Klopp was clearly annoyed about ‘tiki taka’ being preferred over his style of quick, counter-attacking football. Lewandowski, for me, would be an even bigger loss for Dortmund. The Polish international has made 44 appearances for Borussia Dortmund this season, scoring 35 goals and assisting 13. As well as scoring goals, a lot of Dortmund’s play goes through Lewandowski, who is deployed as a target man. He creates play and also provides an easy outlet for Dortmund, holding the ball up and bringing the pacey supporting trio of Reus, Götze and Blaszczykowski into play.
Bayern München’s signing of Kirchoff is unlikely to cause any defensive departures, however, the signing of Götze may signal the end of Frank Ribery or Arjen Robbens’ Bayern careers. When Guardiola arrived at Barcelona he immediately tried to install a team ethic, the theory the team was more important than any individual. He made all foreigners learn Spanish and talk Spanish, while also reminding the team of their Catalonian location. He will probably try and apply the same ethic at Bayern. He will make all of the players talk German, stopping national divides forming in the dressing room. He will also try and remind Bayern of their Bavarian location, making the team proud of representing their region. The one thing that Guardiola did which was immediately obvious at Barca was selling the players who were ‘party boys’, disruptive influences or the ones who possessed big egos. Guardiola sold Deco, Eto’o and Gudjohnsen; all were talented footballers but for Guardiola were characteristically flawed. Robben has been accused of being a very greedy player, often shooting wastefully instead of passing. He has also had fights with team mates Lahm, Müller and Ribery. Robben is not a Guardiola player, and nor is Ribery. As well as Ribery’s fight with Robben at half-time against Real Madrid in last year’s Champions League semi-final, Ribery has other flaws. Naturally, Guardiola will be put off by Ribery, due to the Frenchman admitting to having sex with an underage (17-year-old) prostitute. Guardiola will not want bad attention on his Bayern München side, and both Ribery and Robben could leave Bayern this summer. If Lewandowski is signed, then Mario Gómez may leave Bayern. Also, Gómez might not fit into Guardiola’s style. Zlatan Ibrahimović, a Guardiola signing at Barca, was a big target man who Guardiola could not fit into his style. Maybe Gómez will be the same, with the player being linked with Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and other big clubs.
Borussia Dortmund will need to replace the talent gaps left by the departing Götze and the likely departing Lewandowski. Possible replacements for Götze include: Christian Eriksen, Isco, Moritz Leitner (already at Dortmund), Saphir Taïder and Thiago Alcantara. Christian Eriksen: + could be available for as little as £15million, brilliant creator, good dribbler, can speak German, in demand – not as quick as Götze. Isco: + 21 years of age, might be cheap due to Malaga’s poor financial situation, great dribbler – slower than Götze, buyout clause of €35 million, can’t speak German, in big demand. Moritz Leitner: + already at club, can speak German, does not need time to adapt, 20 years old, very talented – might not be ready. Saphir Taïder: + Good dribbler, quick, good passer, cheap due to Bologna debt – cannot speak German, might struggle to adapt to very different German game, might not be quite ready. Thiago: + 22 years of age, great passer, great creator – more defensive than Götze, not as dynamic as Götze, future of Barca midfield, can’t speak German, in demand.
With the Lewandowski move looking likely, here are some possible replacements for Dortmund: Edin Džeko, Edinson Cavini, Falcao, Luis Suárez, Papiss Cisse (linked with Dortmund a lot in the media recently) and Stevan Jovetić. Edin Džeko: + Previously brilliant for Wolfsburg in Germany, unhappy at limited role with Manchester City, big target man – wages, transfer cost. Edinson Cavini: + Clinical finisher, great target man – PSG are interested who are richer, wages, transfer cost. Falcao: + Can play target man, great finisher, best experience in Europe out of all candidates – in huge demand with Chelsea looking front runners, cost, wages. Luis Suárez: + Supremely talented, versatile, creative, not happy in England – not very clincial, not an aerial target man, very controversial, expensive, Liverpool stated that they would not sell him. Papiss Cisse: + experienced German football before, cheapest candidate, can speak a bit of German – not very good, very inconsistent. Stevan Jovetić: + Creative, great dribbler, can play target man if supply is to feet, could be cheap due to Fiorentina’s debt, very versatile, could play in Götze role – Arsenal are very interested and are reportedly close to a deal, not a big target man like Lewandowski.
With Götze becoming a Bayern player at the end of the season, and Lewandowski possibly joining him, the awkwardness of the now almost certain Bayern V Dortmund final will be huge. For example, what if Götze scores a last minute winner to win the Champions League for Dortmund, imagine how awkward it would be for Götze when he meets his new team mates. At the same time though, Götze will want to win the Champions League, it is a horrible dilemma for any player. Hopefully, the match is not spoilt by Götze or Lewandowski playing awkwardly.
So, it looks like it will be a very busy transfer window in Germany, and I have only covered two of the clubs! With the rise of the Bundesliga, the German national team will probably win a major tournament soon. Bayern are clearly growing stronger, but Dortmund can replace their departures. I hope that next season the Bundesliga will be a tighter contest, otherwise Guardiola will not be tested. Imagine if José Mourinho joined a German club!
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