It seemed that Bayern Munich could do no wrong in the last year. They have broken their transfer record in purchasing the missing piece in their jigsaw in the form of Javi Martinez. They announced the capture Pep Guardiola, the most in-demand coach in the world, who up until then appeared to be heading to the Premier League. They then went on to become the first German team ever to win the treble, securing the Bundesliga as early as April and dismantling the all-conquering Barcelona 7-0 over two legs on their way to a fifth Champion’s League title. Bayern even announced the signing of German golden boy Mario Gotze, who was brought in from their domestic rivals and Champion’s League finals opponent Borussia Dortmund. In truth, by the end of the season the only thing that seemed botched was that Jupp Heynckes was not able to continue with his dominating team.
And while through all the fanfare it was insisted that Pep would not attempt to implement his own favored ‘tiki-taka’ style at Bayern, it was hoped that his creative genius would improve Bayern without tinkering with the formula too much. However the signing of Thiago does not appear to be a masterstroke, or even a necessary signing for Bayern.
While Thiago was available at a cut-price deal of 20 million due to the shockingly terrible mismanagement of the Barcelona hierarchy, it appeared that Manchester United were the only true runners for his signature since Perez backed out due to a fear of a Barcelona backlash. And that transfer appeared to make perfect sense. Manchester United have been crying for a creative midfielder since Scholes was entering the twilight of his career and Paul Pogba had already left due to a lack of playing time and Thiago was getting frustrated at the lack of opportunities afforded to him behind the Barca midfield three of Busquets, Xavi, and Iniesta.
But suddenly Guardiola expressed an interest in Thiago saying that he was “needed” at Bayern and he was signed within a few days and stated that Pep was the reason he ultimately chose to join the German giants.
However it appears that once again Guardiola’s not so great record in the transfer market has shown. He was already overruled by the Bayern hierarchy in attempting to sign Neymar as they expressed concern over whether the Brazilian could adapt to the league in Germany since there was plenty of past evidence of Brazilian busts, so they opted instead for Gotze who was already acclimatized to the league.
Thiago appears to be another possible bad piece of business, since first and foremost, Bayern do not need him. This is a young player who has bags of potential but has not been able to use it to get a regular amount of playing time in Barcelona. It is true that he shone in the U-21 Euros but doing so in the senior level is still a tougher task, especially for one that has been expected to do so for some time now. Another major issue is exactly where does he fit in at Bayern Munich?
He doesn’t have the ball-winning or defensive solidity of Javi Martinez, and if Guardiola moves Martinez to the back he would most likely partner Dante and thus would leave Boateng and Badstuber much lower in the depth chart, something that would be hard for the Bayern hierarchy to accept since Badstuber is a graduate of the Bayern youth academy. Secondly Bastian Schweinsteiger is in the prime of his career and Toni Kroos provides the class and creativity in the final third. Mario Gotze will already find it difficult to break into this Bayern team, with talks of him being played as a ‘false nine’ a la Messi being mooted in some circles. Meanwhile there is also the question of Thomas Muller, who was having an excellent season until he went down and then Robben stepped up superbly in his place. And this does not even take into account the incredible season that Ribery has had, or that Xherdan Shaqiri is waiting in the wings and has impressed when called upon immensely.
And what of Mario Mandzukic? Who’s hard-pressing and excellent all-round play sent Mario Gomez packing to Fiorentina? This article isn’t even taking into account some of the promising youngsters that are waiting to break into the first team, such as Emre Can.
In the end it appears that Thiago’s arrival will raise more questions than answers and even for Thiago it will be difficult for him to break into this team, perhaps more so than at Barcelona where a visibly fatigued and older Xavi would need more rest during this upcoming season. As for Pep, he already has his current players on their toes with Gotze feeling the most undermined by this latest signing from Pep. Time will tell whether this was a great move by Pep or another expensive reserve on the bench, as has become common at Barcelona under Pep.
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Written by Mahmoud Ghellai