It is pretty easy to see why Leroy Sane has had his head turned by interest from Bayern Munich.
Just getting minutes on the pitch is going to be a battle for him at Premier League champions Manchester City. But a move to his homeland would change everything. The Bundesliga winners want him to be the marquee signing that launches them into a new campaign.
So far, it has been a strange summer in Munich. Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mats Hummels and Rafinha have departed—and while Lucas Hernandez, Jann-Fiete Arp, and Benjamin Pavard have arrived, it does not seem quite sufficient to keep them clear of title rivals Borussia Dortmund, and even the players seem frustrated.
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Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski have both publicly stated that they would like to see new faces, with the Poland international striker telling reporters: "Without transfers, it will be difficult to compete for the big titles. To play and stay at a top level, you need a reinforced team."
Hernandez cost €80 million (£73 million) and Pavard €35 million, so it is not as though Bayern's top brass have been shy to dip into their pockets. But it's the attacking options that seem short, especially when fans have read for so long about apparent interest in exciting talent such as Gareth Bale, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Wilfried Zaha and Sane.
Dortmund have brought in Hummels, Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and Nico Schulz for the new season. Bayern fans would love reassurance that their own team are going to better that.
Philipp Kessler is a reporter for German newspaper Bild and told B/R of his concerns over their transfer business so far this summer.
"It is not satisfactory," he said. "Although they already signed two world champions in Lucas Hernández and Benjamin Pavard, the megatransfer for the offence has not yet come through. The current team is good enough to win national titles—but at European level, Bayern needs new stars in my opinion. There are still a few weeks left in this transfer window..."
Bayern intend to add new faces, and Sane is the priority. Sources told us that senior figures at the club have been asked to remain quiet over a potential deal for Sane, yet coach Niko Kovac could not help himself this week when he told ZDF (h/t TalkSport) he was "confident" of a deal.
Sane is open to it, too. At the end of last season he was frustrated—Pep Guardiola seemed to have little faith in him in the big games. But there is still a will from City to extend his current contract beyond 2021..
Last week, Pep Guardiola said, per BBC: "He has to make a decision. If he wants to go, he can do that, but we would be sad." For Bayern, though, that decision could mean everything.
The German club continue to look at other, cheaper, wing options and have also been negotiating with Espanyol over a potential €40 million transfer for central midfielder Marc Roca.
This is an important time for executive board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who has stressed the importance of winning the Champions League before he steps aside in 2021.
Part of his remit is to use his extensive contacts in the game to help deliver a stellar signing—and that's what everyone is now waiting for.
Abel Meszaros is an analyst at Sport 1 and an expert on German football for Bundesliga Fanatic. He claims that while there have been some positives for Bayern since the end of last season, everything hinges on a big signing.
"Getting the Pavard and Lucas deals done early was a positive, as was making decisions early on players Kovac did not plan on using like Hummels and James Rodriguez," he said.
"It's Sane or bust at this point. With him, they are the clear favourites to defend the title. Without him? I'd think Dortmund, who have crushed this summer's market already, are probably just about favourites."
The future of Bayern is intriguing—and not just in terms of personnel.
Kovac has been indicating during pre-season that he prefers to use a 4-3-3 system—although there is an expectation that in big games he may still revert to the club's tried and tested 4-2-3-1.
Meszaros added: "The 4-3-3 would see Thiago as the lone [No.] 6 and is the go-to formation—with Leon Goretzka and Tolisso as the [No.] 8s. The front three right now is Lewy [Lewandowski], Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry.
"The fun question is whether Kovac, who liked using three centre-backs previously, will do so in Bayern because now they have the players to do so."
Bayern have postponed their traditional team photograph. It's likely they are going to wait until their new squad is complete.
But the German transfer window closes on September 2, and if they do not get Sane on board, you have to question how this team will compete with Europe's very best next season.