5 Players Bayern Munich Sold Too Soon

Clark Whitney@@Mr_BundesligaFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2015

5 Players Bayern Munich Sold Too Soon

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    Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    Bayern Munich have done some great business over the years, and indeed, the club's own initiatives have brought it to the forefront of Europe's top earners. The Bavarian giants have benefited from having little competition around their location in Germany's wealthiest area, but they have emerged not due to help from the federal government or collective television deals as some of Europe's other top-earning clubs have.

    Instead, they've forged strong corporate sponsorships, built a loyal and massive fanbase and found good value for money in the transfer market.

    Every club has to learn to live with regrets, though, and Bayern are no exception. Despite all the many outstanding deals, they've made over the years, Bayern have also made a few mistakes in the transfer market. The following slides depict those who got away, presented in chronological order.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

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    Carlo Fumagalli/Associated Press

    From 1974 to 1984, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was a faithful and dedicated servant to Bayern Munich, one who before his departure would cement himself as a club legend.

    Rummenigge won the European Cup twice as a senior Bayern player, and he took the torch from Gerd Muller as he and Paul Breitner formed the lethal combination known as "FC Breitnigge," ending a domestic slump for the Bavarians as they won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 1980 and 1981, and the DFB-Pokal in 1982 and 1984.

    The forward reached his peak in the early 1980s, winning the Ballon d'Or in 1980 and 1981. In his final year in Munich, he scored a Bundesliga-high 26 goals. But then he was sold to Inter in the summer of 1984. It was for a then-record fee of €5.5 million (according to Transfermarkt), but even so, Bayern might have been wiser to keep one of their and Germany's best-ever players.

    Rummenigge left Munich at the age of 28 and, although he never reached the same heights in Italy due to a woeful run of injuries, probably had more to offer. Eventually, he returned to Bayern in a managerial role, and to this day he runs the show as CEO.

Andreas Brehme

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    In the late 1980s, Bayern sold several huge stars to suitors in Serie A. Andreas Brehme and Lothar Matthaus began the exodus in 1988, and Jurgen Kohler followed a year later as he moved to Juventus. It was a difficult time for the Bavarians, who had built a strong team before it was picked apart.

    Brehme at the time of his move was in the height of his career, 27 years of age and still with plenty left in the tank. After leaving Bayern, he won Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup with Inter, and the World Cup in 1990. He was also a Ballon d'Or finalist in 1990, finishing behind only club and international teammate Matthaus and Salvatore Schillaci. As such, the €1.1 million fee (according to Transfermarkt) Bayern earned for his sale was rather on the low side.

    Most of Germany's greatest heroes have spent several years at Bayern, but Brehme, an 86-times capped international who scored the late winner against Diego Maradona's Argentina in the 1990 World Cup final, only plied his trade with the Bundesliga record champions for two years.

Lothar Matthaus

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    CARLO FUMAGALLI/Associated Press

    When clubs sell a player they'd be wiser to keep, it's rare they have a chance to undo the mistake. In Lothar Matthaus' case, Bayern were able to bring back one of Germany's best-ever players four years after selling him to Inter for just €3.6 million (according to Transfermarkt) in 1988.

    Prior to his sale to Inter, Matthaus had spent four years in Munich. During his first spell at the club, Bayern won the Bundesliga three times and the DFB-Pokal once, and reached the Champions League final in 1987. The summer he left Bayern and two years after reaching the World Cup final with West Germany, Matthaus was named to the Euro 1988 Team of the Tournament. Then he was sold.

    During his time at Inter, and after two finals appearances, Matthaus finally won the World Cup. For his heroics in captaining his country, he was also honored with the Ballon d'Or. What a great honor it would have been for Bayern had Matthaus represented them at the time.

    Instead, Bayern re-signed Matthaus in 1992 when he was 31 years old. He'd spent four years of his prime in Italy, but he still had something to offer Bayern and spent eight more years in Munich before retiring from European football.

Mats Hummels

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    JOHN MACDOUGALL/Getty Images

    Defense has been a strong point in the Bayern team in the last few years, especially since the signings of Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng. But there was a time not long ago when the Bavarians were much more shaky at the back.

    It was during this time young Mats Hummels was starting to make a name for himself. But he was doing so not at the club where he was trained in his early years, but rather at Borussia Dortmund.

    In one of the more silly decisions Bayern have made (at least in retrospect), the 19-year-old Hummels was loaned to BVB in 2007 as 18-year-old defender Breno was brought to the Allianz Arena for a hefty price of (according to Transfermarkt) €12 million. Two years later, Hummels was sold to Dortmund for just €4.2 million (via Transfermarkt).

    In the years since, Breno has blown out his knees repeatedly and been convicted of arson. Hummels is a World Cup winner and in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Bundesliga campaigns, as well as the 2011-12 DFB-Pokal, showed Bayern just what they were missing as he led BVB to honors in those three competitions.

    He's had his ups and downs in the years since, but he is still a highly coveted defender who would have been useful to Bayern especially as they flirted with greatness in the run-up to their treble-winning 2012-13 campaign.

Lucio

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    Luca Bruno/Associated Press

    Louis van Gaal was a controversial figure at Bayern, to say the very least. He began his career at the Allianz Arena with a bang with the shock sale of esteemed Brazil international Lucio to Inter. The defender won a DFB-Pokal and three Bundesliga titles in five years in Munich and was easily his team's best center-back. At 31 years of age, he wasn't exactly at the end of his career.

    Yet in the first month of Van Gaal's tenure in Munich, Lucio was deemed surplus to requirements and sold to Inter for just €7 million, according to Transfermarkt. Speaking to Kicker (h/t Goal), Lucio hit out against Van Gaal for showing a lack of respect for the service he'd done the club: "It's a known fact that every trainer has his own ideas and methods. However, Van Gaal simply treated me disrespectfully. I deserved better than this," he said. But actions speak louder than words, and the defender would exact his revenge in the months that followed.

    Immediately after leaving Munich, Lucio would go on to have the most successful stint of his career. He was named Brazil captain, an honor he held until his international retirement in the fall of 2011. And in 2009-10, he won the treble with Inter.

    In the 2010 Champions League final, he even had the opportunity to personally show Van Gaal what the Dutchman was missing out on. As Bayern center-back Daniel van Buyten was turned inside-out by match-winner Diego Milito, Lucio must have felt at least a bit of schadenfreude.