Bayern Munich have confirmed they will sign Sandro Wagner from Hoffenheim in the January transfer window.
The club posted the following snap of the 30-year-old forward with his new jersey on Thursday, with the player agreeing a contract until 2020:
FC Bayern English @FCBayernEN
BREAKING: #FCBayern to sign Germany international forward Sandro #Wagner in January until 2020 ✍️ #MiaSanMia https://t.co/eBtDHoQnoq2017-12-21 09:00:41
Wagner returns to Bayern having honed his skills in the club's youth setup before going on to make four appearances for the first team between 2007 and 2008.
He eventually moved on to Duisburg and enjoyed stints with Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin and Darmstadt prior to his switch to Hoffenheim in 2016. Ed Malyon of The Independent believes Wagner deserves credit for finding a way back to Bavaria:
Ed Malyon @eaamalyon
If you watched Sandro Wagner four or five years ago you'd never ever have guessed he'd sign for Bayern one day. Good for him2017-12-21 09:15:38
For Bayern, the signing will bring some crucial depth to the centre-forward position, with Robert Lewandowski the only natural striker available to manager Jupp Heynckes as things stand.
Wagner has been enjoying a decent season in the German top flight, grabbing four goals and two assists in 11 appearances for Hoffenheim. He's a player whose impact extends beyond raw numbers, though.
The 30-year-old offers an excellent focal point in attack, as he's able to win his battles and hold the ball up. As noted by OptaFranz, when the ball is put into dangerous areas, Wagner is a tough man to get the better of in aerial duels:
10 - No other player scored more headed goals in the #Bundesliga since the start of the 2015-16 season than birthday boy Sandro #Wagner. Aircraft. @achtzehn99_en @DFB_Team_EN https://t.co/9c0TMQKzBs2017-11-29 09:38:47
Having someone available who can bring a different type of threat up top will be invaluable to Heynckes and will take some pressure off Lewandowski.
With Thomas Muller not at his best this season, there have been times when the Bayern boss has had to get creative with his centre-forward options, with combative midfielder Arturo Vidal occupying the position earlier in the campaign at one point.
Wagner will allow Heynckes to keep Lewandowski fresh for crucial fixtures domestically and in the Champions League. It's a role Bayern's new striker must be content with to have signed; ESPN's Mark Lovell commented on the kind of position he'll fulfil:
Mark Lovell #FBPE @LovellLowdown
Sandro Wagner Bayern Munich's €15m insurance policy. If he plays in Champions League against any other side than Besiktas..either Robert Lewandowski is injured or Bayern are losing and chasing a goal.2017-12-18 14:13:31
Bayern are in total control of the Bundesliga title race, having built up an 11-point lead to nearest challengers Schalke 04.
Wagner should be afforded some minutes as a result and is a handy option to draft into the side. Ultimately, whether via his own performances or his presence merely allowing others to stay sharp, he can also play an important part in Bayern mounting a serious challenge for the Champions League.