Bayern Munich’s resolve is set to be tested by big-money offers for several of their well-decorated players.
On Tuesday John Cross of the Mirror reported midfielder Toni Kroos had informed several of his teammates that he was “determined” to join Manchester United during the summer—a closed season that could also see bids come in for the likes of Javi Martinez, Thomas Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Van Buyten, and Mario Mandzukic.
In February El Chiringuito claimed Martinez would welcome a move to Real Madrid, as relayed by Football-Espana, and just last month Muller refused to rule out a possible switch to Barcelona, telling Bild that, while there had been “some interesting offers,” he understood that Bayern “is not a selling club,” as per Lucas Brown of Sky Sports.
Shaqiri, meanwhile, is on the record as saying that “if a major club were to make a move,” he would “consider it,” according to Goal, and Van Buyten, who is out of contract in June, is thought to be mulling a free transfer to Monaco, Patrick Haond of Sky Sports has reported.
Mandzukic, for his part, will have to decide whether to go into next season as manager Pep Guardiola’s No. 2 centre forward behind the incoming Robert Lewandowski.
In January Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer remarked that Lewandowski was “more suited” to the club’s style, as per Four Four Two, and the Daily Mail has already linked both Chelsea and Arsenal to the Croatia forward.
In a sense, none of these rumours should be particularly surprising. As Muller, himself, commented when addressing the Barcelona reports, “If you stay at the level we are playing at in this business, then you are going to be sought after.”
The thing is, Muller is not an everyday starter in Guardiola’s rotation system.
Already an unused substitute four times this term, the 24-year-old has started only seven of Bayern’s last 12 matches, and Martinez—who prefers to play in midfield—has made just nine Bundesliga starts so far this season and has operated primarily as a centre-back.
Shaqiri and Van Buyten have made 19 Bundesliga starts between them.
But playing time is only one of the factors that potentially opens a footballer’s mind to a change of scenery. Remuneration is another—and a rather important one.
Mario Gotze, for example, is on the same wages as Ballon d’Or finalist Franck Ribery (€12 million per year), despite being just 21 years old and having only arrived at the club last summer.
That puts him €2 million per year above Muller and a whopping €7.5 million above Kroos, whose contract expires at the end of next season. Even Mandzukic earns less than half as much as Gotze and €3 million less than Thiago Alcantara, who also joined Bayern in 2013.
Naturally, these discrepancies can be addressed going forward, but given Bayern’s reputation as a shrewdly run outfit, they’ll no doubt examine all options before handing out significant raises.
In other words, the next few months promise to be a formative period for the Bavarian giants, who will either do all they can to keep their current group intact or seriously consider the outside interest their current stars are attracting.