Pep Guardiola and the headstrong Bayern Munich board have never seemed a completely comfortable fit. The two sides could now be heading for a major spat if extracts from a forthcoming biography about Guardiola are accurate.
Spanish journalist Marti Perarnau has sent extracts of Herr Guardiola to the press as a teaser. Certain passages claim the Bundesliga club sold dynamic midfield playmaker Toni Kroos against Guardiola's wishes, per the Daily Mail's Kit Holden:
Perarnau's book, though, alleges that Guardiola also specified that Kroos should not be sold under any circumstances. The former Barcelona boss saw pass-master Kroos as a key ingredient to the project he wished to build in Bavaria.
But with the board, led by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, refusing point blank to raise Kroos' wages, the player was lost to Real Madrid after the World Cup. After his move, Kroos insisted that he had 'no problem whatsoever with Guardiola.'
These quotes do perhaps help clear up one of the strangest transfer moves during this summer's window. Kroos had always seemed like one Bayern player who would really benefit from Guardiola's arrival.
He's a natural pass-and-move schemer, quick-witted and technically proficient. A diminutive creative type like Kroos should be occupying a role similar to the ones played by Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta when Guardiola oversaw a dominant FC Barcelona team.
Instead, the 24-year-old Germany international will now be plying his trade for Barca's arch-rival, the team that dispatched Guardiola's Bayern from last season's UEFA Champions League.
It's a move symptomatic of an apparently uneasy relationship between Guardiola and the Bayern hierarchy.
Club bigwig Franz Beckenbauer was very critical of Guardiola's tiki-taka style of play and overall tactics last season. He told Madrid-based newspaper Marca (h/t Daily Mail's David Kent) that Bayern "aren't right." He also had disparaging words for Guardiola's former club, per the same publication:
We're going to end up being unwatchable like Barcelona. The players will start passing the ball back even on the goal line.
I have a different vision. If I had the chance to shoot from distance, particularly up against a tight defence, I'd take it. That's the most efficient way [to play], though it's 100% up to the players.
However, it should be noted that Guardiola's influence is obvious in some of Munich's transfer dealings so far this summer. The club has secured two fellow countrymen, veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina and brilliant young full-back Juan Bernat.
Guardiola won't have any excuses not to field a team more representative of his ideal vision this season. But judging by Beckenbauer's view, it could be the last concession he gets.
More than just a political move, Kroos' exit has stretched an already thinning position close to its breaking point. Holden noted how injuries to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara already leave Guardiola scrambling for options in the middle.
It's possible another season as a midfielder beckons for outstanding full-back Philipp Lahm.
It seems that a genuine rift is more than just brewing beneath the surface at Bayern. If selling Kroos was a power move, one that dismisses Guardiola's preferences for players who fit his footballing philosophy, this simmering rivalry could soon boil over.
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