What We Learned from Bayern Munich's 2014 Summer Transfer Window

Clark Whitney@@Mr_BundesligaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2014

What We Learned from Bayern Munich's 2014 Summer Transfer Window

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    The 2014 summer transfer window has come to a close and Bayern Munich's squad is looking very different now than it did in May.

    After a relatively slow 2013 summer transfer campaign, the Bavarians made big moves in the most recent window.

    Toni Kroos, Mario Mandzukic, Diego Contento, Daniel van Buyten, Alessandro Schopf and Lukas Raeder have left the club, while Robert Lewandowski, Sebastian Rode, Juan Bernat, Xabi Alonso, Mehdi Benatia, Pepe Reina and youth player Sinan Kurt have been added as new signings.

    Bayern's moves in the 2014 transfer window have reflected changes in the club's policies towards transfers and a general shift in philosophy in squad development. And there are some clear take-home messages from their dealings.

    Click "Begin Slideshow" for a closer look at the more important themes from Bayern's summer transfers.

The Spanish Revolution Is on

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Since Pep Guardiola's arrival at Bayern, the club have signed four Spanish players. Thiago Alcantara joined in 2013, and Juan Bernat, Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso followed this summer.

    They joined compatriots Javi Martinez and their coach, as well as staff that amount to 10 Spaniards (per Jan Aage Fjortoft) in and around the squad.

    Not long ago, there were only a handful of Spaniards in the Bundesliga. Bayern have significantly added to the Spanish character, adding more players from the Iberian country during Guardiola's stay (and especially in 2014) than from anywhere else.

    Discounting Jan Kirchoff (who has already come and gone), the Bavarians have signed twice as many senior players from Spain in the last three transfer windows as senior Germans.

    Those Spaniards who have joined Bayern are generally well-rated. Thiago and Bernat were full-time starters upon arrival. By comparison, others such as Mario Gotze and Sebastian Rode have not, at least as of yet, imposed themselves in Guardiola's lineup.

    Raw numbers only tell half the story, though. Thiago's addition and higher wages at least suggest that he usurped Kroos' role. If he didn't, then Alonso did. And Reina pushed the German Tom Starke one notch down the pecking order at goalkeeper.

    A Spaniard himself, Guardiola has pursued players from his background, perhaps those more compatible with his footballing ideals. As of now, the Spanish revolution at Bayern is on.

Bayern Shedding 'Germany's Team' Image, Pursuing Diverse Talent

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    Sascha Schuermann/Associated Press

    Bayern signed six senior players this summer, but only one (Sebastian Rode) was German. Among their six sales, half (Toni Kroos, Diego Contento and Lukas Raeder) were German. This follows the summer of 2013 in which four Germans were sold and two (one of whom has since left) were brought in.

    As of now, the current Bayern squad still contains more domestic players than those of any foreign country. Among the 28 first-team players, 12 either already do or are eligible to represent Germany at international level.

    But times are changing. There are now five Spaniards in the first team and six native Spanish speakers.

    There are two Brazilians, an Austrian, a Dutchman, a Dane, a Frenchman, a Moroccan, a Pole and an American. All in all, Bayern's first team contains representatives from a dozen countries.

    Once upon a time, Bayern's overt policy was to target the best German talent and build a predominantly German team. But now, following the sale of Toni Kroos and the international retirement of Philipp Lahm, only five (Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze) of current Germany players are part of the Bundesliga's most successful club.

    Dortmund have at least as many, plus as many as three more Germans when fit. Even non-Bundesliga clubs Real Madrid and Arsenal have two of Low's stars apiece.

    Bayern have instead looked to diversify their talent pool under Pep Guardiola. Those who joined the club this summer represent four different countries, each with a different background and perspective on football they can share.

    It can be a challenge to integrate such diversity into one, functional team, but if a coach is looking for exact fits in a precise system, he's more likely to find what he's looking for by scouting across the planet than he is by looking through a narrow, one-country lens.

    Whether right or too ambitious, Guardiola and Bayern have taken a decided step away from a pro-German policy and towards a more international character.

Tiki-Taka Is a Thing of the Past

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    Joerg Sarbach/Associated Press

    False nines and slow, meticulous passing in a possession-based system were the name of the game for Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and for at least some of his time as Bayern head coach.

    But now it's become quite clear that he's breaking away from the philosophy he adapted from his Dutch coaches at Barca. In fact, he is quoted as having said "I hate tiki-taka" in Marti Perarnu's book Herr Pep, according to AS.

    Bayern's tactics have reflected a non-tiki-taka style in the season thus far, with Guardiola having moved to a more vertical 3-4-3 formation. And his transfers seem to suggest he intends for that policy to stay.

    Robert Lewandowski has started every game since his friendly debut and apparently is meant to be the club's long-term starting striker. He may be quite effective with the ball at his feet, but he's by no means a midfielder at heart; there's nothing "false" about his role as a No. 9.

    The addition of Juan Bernat also suggests a move away from tiki-taka. The 21-year-old is decidedly a one-footed player and is more of a dribbler than a passer when in possession.

    His addition as a left-sided role-player in addition to the likes of David Alaba and Franck Ribery has helped Guardiola shift to his new, 3-4-3 system which is very different from the 4-3-3 he used during his most successful years at Barcelona.

    Finally, Bayern's sale of Toni Kroos is also consistent with their moving away from Guardiola's traditional philosophy. As great as he is, the Germany international is a possession-first player, supremely gifted with the ball and limited without it.

    He perhaps does not slow down the game as much as Bastian Schweinsteiger but can bring play to a standstill at times. Guardiola's team thus far this season has looked quicker and much more vertical and deliberate in their attack.

Uli Hoeness Is Already Missed

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    During Uli Hoeness' presidency, Bayern became well known for being brutally effective in the transfer market and in business overall. Since his imprisonment on charges of tax evasion, not all has been perfect at the club in their negotiations with players.

    The prime case is the sale of Toni Kroos to Real Madrid, which never would have occurred under Hoeness' watch. In January, all signs pointed to the player expecting a salary in the €8-10 million range.

    Raphael Honigstein tweeted at the time that he wanted to be recognized monetarily in the range of Arjen Robben (€8 million, via SportBild, in German), Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger (both €10 million).

    The German record champions (per Bild, in German) offered "only" €7 million, a move that would leave the Bayern man of eight years behind newcomer Thiago in terms of salary, opening the door for other offers.

    FCB held firm on their valuation, and it became an easy choice for Kroos when Real came knocking.

    Bayern initially shrugged off Kroos' sale, and fans looked to the likes of Sebastian Rode, Pierre Hojbjerg and Gianluca Gaudino as replacements. But none of the above has experience in the Champions League or any major international tournament and surely will not be able to provide as Kroos has for at least a couple years—if ever.

    Bayern's scrambling to sign Xabi Alonso just days before the transfer market's close betrays a sense of nervousness over the state of their midfield. The ex-Real Madrid man, who turns 33 in November and is past his prime and any substantial resale value, was (per Bild, in German) given a wage of €7.5 million, higher than the offer made to Kroos.

    Perhaps the Bayern board assumed that any academy product would gladly accept their valuation and stay on at the club that won a treble a year before. Perhaps they truly didn't see Kroos as being worth a wage in the €8-9 million range.

    Whatever the reason, their judgment was not as keen as that of Hoeness. Kroos put on some superlative displays in the Champions League and at the World Cup; Real humiliated Bayern on European club football's biggest competitive stage, then signed one of their biggest stars.

    The Alonso signing was almost an admission of mistake. It's no coincidence that this came just months after Hoeness' departure.
     

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