Bayern Munich have confirmed a deal to sign Mehdi Benatia from Roma in one of the summer's biggest transfers, as Pep Guardiola's Bavarian squad continues to take shape. Bayern Munich's official English twitter feed has the news:
The Moroccan centre-back's departure from Serie A has appeared imminent for some time, as Europe's elite circled around the all-action defender prior to his agreement with Bayern. Javi Martinez's long-term injury upped Bayern's interest in the player who will now link up with the Bundesliga champions.
Benatia is said to have gained attention from Premier League outfits Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City this summer, per Nick Lustig of the Daily Express. Bayern managed to confirm a costly deal, however, as detailed by James Horncastle of BT Sport:
Per @DiMarzio, agreement reached for Benatia. Bayern to pay Roma €26m plus €4m in add-ons. 5-yr deal for player. €4m p/a. Medical tomorrow— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) August 26, 2014
Horncastle believes Benatia is a greater player than current Bayern centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Dante, while his versatility is also a factor:
Hard on Boateng and Dante given they've won everything + had unprecedented success at Bayern, but Benatia an upgrade at CB IMO— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) August 26, 2014
Can play in a 3 [like at Udinese] or a 4 [like at Roma]. That'll suit Pep— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) August 26, 2014
Guardiola longs to make this Bayern squad his own and is scrutinised for every move that alters the side who completed a historic trophy haul under Jupp Heynckes in 2013-14.
Key players such as Toni Kroos and Mario Mandzukic have left the club, while Guardiola has brought in Robert Lewandowski, Sebastian Rode, Juan Bernat, Pepe Reina and now Benatia to build upon last year's title win.
Should Mehdi Benatia go straight into Bayern Munich's starting lineup?
The incoming centre-back is blessed with all of the attributes needed to be a success in Germany. Although not overly tall, he is athletic, agile and a dogged tackler. Importantly for Guardiola, Benatia is a confident ball player and will start attacking momentum from the back. He is happy to dribble forward and doesn't look out of place when stepping out of defence.
Benatia scored five goals in 33 Serie A appearances last season, per WhoScored.com. He's a smart mover in the opposition's box and will either find space with quick movement or power himself over his marker when attempting to reach a delivery from wide.
Guardiola utilised a three-man defence during the side's recent victory over Wolfsburg. Benatia will be key to this strategy if the Spanish manager wishes to continue deploying a tighter defensive unit. He would sit well alongside Boateng and David Alaba, offering Bayern an excellent combination of power, speed and technical ability to deal with most situations.
Martinez's immobility could be questioned in this system, which appears to suit defenders who are sharper off the mark. As ever, Guardiola can be expected to chop and change both his personnel and tactics as the season progresses, meaning Benatia will likely fill a number of roles as the schedule picks up.
Benatia will aid the manager's ability to implement his philosophy over a Bayern side that has won it all. The 27-year-old is undoubtedly an excellent capture and remains at the peak of his powers after establishing himself in Italy, but the Bundesliga represents a step up. Like his boss, he will need to take no prisoners and adapt quickly under the spotlight of the Allianz Arena.