Three years after missing out on signing Marco Reus from Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich have again been linked with a move for the mercurial attacking all-rounder.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted his interest in signing Reus to SportBild (h/t Goal.com) in October of 2011, but the then-22-year-old confirmed his transfer to Borussia Dortmund in January on a contract valid through June of 2017.
Shortly after his signing, Bild (h/t Goal.com) reported that Reus' agent had negotiated a release clause worth €35 million that was valid as of 2015.
Dortmund have been trying to reach an agreement with Reus to offer him a higher wage in exchange for the elimination of his clause, with German newspaper Bild reporting in April that a €7 million salary (his current is reportedly €5 million annually) was in the offering. But that offer appears to have fallen flat, and since then, Rummenigge has repeatedly spoken on Reus' situation.
On July 29, he opined to Bild (via Goal.com) that it would be hard for BVB to retain their star.
On August 3, via Bild (h/t Goal.com), he said Bayern had not yet decided whether to pursue Reus. And on August 6, yet again to Bild (h/t International Business Times), Rummenigge spoke on Reus, this time revealing that the player's release clause was actually in the region of €25 million.
Dortmund finally responded, with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke blasting his Bayern counterpart (via the official BVB website) for discussing the contract details of players unrelated to his club.
Behind the scenes, Munich-based Abendzeitung newspaper reports that Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer and technical director Michael Reschke support a move for Reus, while executives Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Jan-Christian Dreesen, Michael Jung and Jorg Wacker disagree.
At first it may seem nonsensical for Bayern not to be interested in a player like Reus, who despite not playing in the World Cup managed to finish as runner-up behind Manuel Neuer in the voting for German Footballer of the Year. But there is good reason for the Bayern directors not to pursue Reus.
On a practical note, coach Pep Guardiola claimed in a Tuesday press conference that a move for Reus would not fulfill any of the club's needs.
In his eyes, Bayern already have eight forwards. And indeed, Bayern do have Robert Lewandowski, Claudio Pizarro, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green in their ranks.
On the other hand, Ribery will be 32 by the end of the current season and Robben 31. Pizarro will turn 36 in October, while Green is, at 19, still a very raw player. Bayern could actually put a new and qualified attacking player to good use.
Reus would absolutely fit in well at Bayern; no player in the Bundesliga, much less Munich, offers the shooting ability with both feet that he has. And his ability to score both from distance and inside the penalty area makes him a truly rare asset.
The 25-year-old would be one of the fastest and best dribblers at Bayern as well, and he offers a unique combination of danger as a scorer and a provider that arguably makes him more of a complete package than any of the current Bayern attackers.
To underline his brilliance, Reus scored and assisted 23 goals apiece last season, averaging approximately a goal and an assist per game over the final months of the campaign.
Having formed a devastating combination with Lewandowski and Gotze at Dortmund, one that reached the Champions League final in its only season together, Reus would surely connect well with his teammates at the Allianz Arena. At €25 million, he'd be a steal.
However, there remains reason for dissent in the Bayern camp against a move for Reus. From a public relations perspective, signing Reus could be disastrous.
He'd sell shirts, but neutrals and even some Bayern fans would look at his signing—especially on the heels of Gotze and Lewandowski's moves—as another attempt for Bayern to destroy any semblance of competition in the Bundesliga.
Many have historically criticized the Bundesliga for being a one-team league, but BVB's back-to-back titles and progression with Bayern to the 2013 Champions League final attracted fans to take a second look.
The status quo was soon restored: Bayern signed Gotze and all but confirmed the acquisition of Lewandowski.
The following season, Gotze rode the bench for long periods, BVB were eliminated in the Champions League quarter-finals and Bayern, for a second consecutive season, set a record pace for winning the Bundesliga.
Bayern can't be blamed for acting in their best interests, however ruthless they may be. They are, after all, a business, and businesses become successful by doing anything and everything in their power to eliminate competition.
Any failure of the Bundesliga is ultimately a failure of its rules and structure, which cannot be pinned on any one club. Bayern are also not responsible for the success or failure of other clubs, even though they, according to their moves in the transfer market, may play a significant role in how their opponents fare.
These considerations are nonetheless immaterial in the world of public relations, which is only concerned with image. The fact is that, right or wrong, Bayern picking apart their rivals leaves an unsavory impression of the club in the eyes of all but the most avid of their fans, especially when those signings are left on the bench.
With Bayern having increased their marketing reach in Asia and more recently North America (they played two preseason games in the United States and opened an office in New York earlier this month), how they are viewed by neutrals quite obviously is a concern.
To sign Reus would be to complete the transplant of a trio that BVB created from the Signal-Iduna Park to the Allianz Arena. It would most certainly come with significant backlash.
If Bayern are in need of a new attacking player, there are other qualified options abroad and even within the Bundesliga who would come without all the public relations damage.
To distill Bayern's possible pursuit of Reus into a simple "right/wrong" assessment would be an oversimplification. From a pure sporting perspective, signing Reus would be a huge coup and, at €25 million, they'd be signing a real superstar at a cut-rate price.
On the other hand, the marginal benefit of adding Reus, who may not be all that much better than any of their current options, may be outweighed by the inevitable backlash that would come against the club's image.
As Rummenigge said earlier this month, a decision hasn't been made, and it in all likelihood won't be made until the situations of Reus and his own players are more clear as the 2015-16 season approaches.