Toni Kroos may have moved on to pastures new at Real Madrid this week, but Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich don't seem too worried to see him go.
Despite a career-defining World Cup win for Germany, in which Kroos played a vital part in ensuring his country took home their fourth victory, Bayern look as though they'll cope without their former German prodigy.
As stated by Fabian Kunze in Eurosport, one of the leading theories to come from this is the concept of Guardiola moving left-back David Alaba into the midfield in Kroos' absence.
The Catalonian coach is obviously quite famous around Munich for converting another full-back into a defensive midfielder—club captain Philipp Lahm—and may be tempted to use Alaba's raw, attacking power in a more central role.
The Austrian international is of course no stranger to the position. He regularly plays as a central midfielder for his country and had on occasion played there for Bayern under Jupp Heynckes a few seasons ago.
If we take a look at the Squawka graphic above, which depicts Alaba's movement throughout a match against Augsburg last season in the Bundesliga, we see that the left-back is quite comfortable playing his game in the opposition half.
Although Kroos was very much a holding midfielder for Bayern last season, it isn't too far-fetched to consider Alaba playing in a midfielder trio alongside the defensive cover of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lahm.
A quick rejig of of the formation and Guardiola's team look as though they can quite comfortably overcome a Kroos-shaped hole in their midfield.
Interestingly enough, when we take a look at Bayern's assists chart from last season, via WhoScored.com, we see that Kroos' contributions weren't actually as big as many would have expected.
Looking at the chart below, which depicts the contribution of Bundesliga assists made from the top attacking players in the squad last season, we see that Kroos' own tally is rather dismissive in the grand scale of the team as a whole.
Franck Ribery and Thomas Mueller sit top with 10 assists each, while Kroos sits with just four in 24 starts for Guardiola's side last season.
What that graph actually shows us is just how concentrated Guardiola's system is on ensuring that his wide players are the ones that are pulling all the strings. Mueller and Ribery both played on either wing for the majority of last season's campaign, and it comes as no surprise that those following them in the assists chart are full-backs Rafinha and Alaba and wingers Mario Goetze and Arjen Robben.
Yet, even amongst the central midfielders, Kroos was consistently outperformed by others last season.
As already stated, Kroos only managed four assists from 24 appearances in the last campaign for Bayern Munich. A figure which pales in comparison when we consider that Thiago—the considered replacement to the departing German international—amassed just as many assists and goals (two) in 16 appearances.
Can Thiago replace Kroos?
As many Bayern fans will remember, Guardiola took to the task of appeasing both midfielders by alternating between the two from one week to the next. Yet, it was the incoming Spaniard who tended to impress and put on match-winning performances whenever he was given the chance.
It then begs the question: Would Kroos have continued starting games for Bayern if Thiago hadn't picked up a long-term injury?
For even now—having lost a player who just won the World Cup with Germany—many fans have taken solace in the fact that Thiago will quite comfortably slot back into the side and take up Kroos' role with perfect efficiency.
Kroos may be gone, but Bayern look as though they will continue dominating German and European football for the time being.