FC Bayern Munich: The Signing of Jan Kirchhoff and a Look at the Transfer Policy
The signing of Jan Kirchhoff on a free transfer shows that Bayern is on the right path as far as their transfer policy is concerned.
Bayern does tend to match break the Bundesliga transfer record more often than not. Prior to the 2007-08 season, they matched the Bundesliga transfer record by purchasing Franck Ribery.
They broke this record again when they purchased Mario Gomez prior to the 2009-10 season. And finally, the transfer record was once again shattered in August 2012 when Javier Martinez came running (literally) from Athletic Bilbao.
However, some transfers that Bayern made for this season weren't so expensive.
The fees for Xherdan Shaqiri and Dante Bonfim were mediocre at best. Even Mario Mandzukic did not cost too much considering the big finances involved in today's transfers. Altogether, these three cost roughly what Ribery alone cost in 2007. All three deals as we already know turned out to be astute ones.
In the 2007-08 season, Bayern tried to assemble a dream team. Marcell Jansen, Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni, Jan Schlaudraff, Ze Roberto, Jose Ernesto Sosa, Breno and Hamit Altintop were bought in. Sandro Wagner and Toni Kroos were promoted to the first team from the reserves.
Jansen and Schlaudraff left soon afterwards. Sosa could not live up to his promise. Breno, of course, had the worst times of the lot. Injuries and later a prison sentence blighted his time in Bavaria.
On the other hand, Toni, Ze Roberto and Ribery had great seasons. Klose and Altintop had reasonably good ones. However, none of these four, with the exception of Ribery, were going to last a long time in Bavaria. While Altintop and Klose did stay on for a long time, they were both past their best years during the last two years of their spells.
Kroos' promotion to the first team might have been the best piece of business Bayern had done for the future then. In fact, he cost a little more than two million euros when he moved to Bayern U-19 from Hansa Rostock in 2006. He was one for the future. By contrast, Toni and Klose were both experienced pros when Bayern bought them.
Fast-forward to today and Bayern has seemingly made the perfect transfers.
One can point out that the sending out of Mitchell Weiser shows that Bayern is not on the money. However, Weiser, in his few moments on the pitch in friendlies, showed just how much talent he possesses. Considering that he was brought in for a meager 500,000 euros, he wasn't much of a gamble. Philipp Lahm's lone spell at Stuttgart and Kroos' one at Leverkusen proves that loan spells can certainly help a player develop.
Dante has been the best amongst the lot. He is the eldest one amongst transfers when only counting outfield players. He has proven to be a steady head in the center of Bayern's defence.
Shaqiri has played well in almost every game in which he has featured. He was the difference against Borussia Monchengladbach on the final day of the first half of the season.
Mandzukic has scored nine goals in the Bundesliga and has helped create plenty of space for the midfielders in and around the box.
Javier Martinez, after a shaky start, showed that Bayern's transfer policy might not necessarily involve buying the best of their rivals. He was deemed to be the missing piece of the puzzle, the perfect partner to Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Luiz Gustavo's injury really allowed him to gain a spot in defensive midfield and to shine brightly in all competitions.
Martinez hasn't justified his huge fee yet. But he surely is set to do so if Bayern lands all three trophies this season.
A team doesn't need to rely on transfers too much when its youth system is as good as Bayern's is. Yet, Bayern lost much of its youth to other clubs. Georg Niedermeier (who didn't turn out to be excellent later) was sold, as was Mats Hummels. Hummels was truly a Bavarian. He joined Bayern when he was six and continued to advance through the youth systems seamlessly. Mehmet Ekici left for Bremen as well.
Coming back to the current transfer policies, Matthias Sammer's one transfer this summer could turn out to be a brilliant move. The purchase of 22-year-old Mainz defender, Jan Kirchhoff, on a free, helps in three ways.
First of all, he provides an adequate replacement for the aging Daniel Van Buyten. Secondly, he is indeed a good player and he might make his way into the first team. And finally, he can also play as a defensive midfielder and can thus replace Anatoliy Tymoshchuk when the Ukrainian eventually calls time on his Bayern career.
Tymoshchuk's transfer is one whose merits can be debated. Louis Van Gaal did not really want him. He got an average amount of playing time in each of his seasons. He has been a good player to have around but has not really ever been a match-changing player. Ivica Olic was transferred in along with him. Olic was brought in on a free and proved to be quite brilliant in his one injury-free season for the Bavarians.
Bayern did make a free transfer this season too. Claudio Pizarro returned to Bavaria yet again. This one has also paid off as Pizarro has come up with various goals in the cup competitions.
Things haven't quite worked out in the league but Pizarro's experience has definitely helped the youngsters. Pizarro's return has been quite a happy one considering the circumstances in which he left Bavaria in 2007.
A player who has seemingly finally found a settling place is Arjen Robben.
Robben moved around quite a few big clubs before finding himself in Bavaria in one of Bayern's best seasons in history. He moved to Bavaria in 2009 and hasn't looked back since. He is currently in his fourth season at Bayern. He seems to be at home in Bayern and has really not let the club down aside from two historical penalty misses.
In recent years, especially the past two seasons, the transfers which Bayern has made have not failed.
Manuel Neuer turned out to be an excellent transfer. Despite his faults, Jerome Boateng turned out to be a much-needed addition in defence. Rafinha has turned out to be a good versatile squad player. Initially, he was expected to be the main man opposite Philipp Lahm in the defence. While things did not turn out that well, he has still proved to be a good transfer.
The transfer of Nils Petersen was the one which caused some waves, considering that he had no experience in the Bundesliga. Petersen did not quite cut it at Bayern. However, he is doing incredibly well in his loan spell at Bremen and if Bayern does manage to make a profit on him if he decides to stay on in Bremen, Bayern will have won more than they lost.
Overall, Bayern's transfer policies now seem much more balanced than they did previously.
Also, the reliance on youth players has certainly helped them. In the 2009-10 season, Thomas Muller and Holger Badstuber emerged. 2011-12 was the breakout season for David Alaba. Diego Contento has turned out to be a good player ever since emerging under Louis Van Gaal. Lahm and Schweinsteiger have both been valuable assets for many years. Kroos is having his breakout season for Bayern.
Emre Can's year was cut short by injury. He is set to return in the new year. He looked very assured in his Cup performances. Patrick Weihrauch could turn out to be a star in the future.
The youth system has produced good keepers as well who ply their trades elsewhere now, such as Michael Rensing and Thomas Kraft.
The current transfer policy seems to be good. It has the right mix of youth and experience about it. If Jan Kirchhoff turns out to be a good transfer next season and if more youth players come through next season, one can say that Bayern has improved its transfer policy compared to past seasons.
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