Bayern Munich's January 2020 transfer window: A fan's perspective | Bundesliga 2019-20
Following weeks of uncharacteristically mediocre football that Bayern Munich were often seen playing under Niko Kovac, interim coach Hansi Flick has been able to weather the storm and bring some stability to the side's fortunes since the departure of the Croatian.
The Bavarians had a good run of fixtures towards the end of the Hinrunde, one that saw them win three games on the trot heading into the winter break. The defending champions were nonetheless four points adrift of the pacesetters RB Leipzig on the Bundesliga table with the additional burden of having only a paper-thin squad at their disposal.
Heading into the January transfer window, Die Roten were in clear need of a winger in addition to defensive reinforcements. Long term injuries to mainstay centre-halves Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Sule had crippled Bayern's armoury while further fitness concerns regarding Javi Martinez left Flick with only two fit centre-backs, one of whom he has deployed as the preferred right-back.
If you've followed Bayern closely for the past few seasons, you'll know that the Bavarians have never been keen to open the chequebook in the winter. The interim coach had made it clear to the press that the team needed a player or two, much to the chagrin of Bayern's upper brass. The result? Two signings on loan and an agreement for a free transfer next summer.
Was Odriozola a sensible choice?
Right from the get-go, Bayern were linked with a plethora of right-backs and for all the good reasons. Flick has made it clear that he prefers Joshua Kimmich as the pivot in the midfield and has been lining Benjamin Pavard in the full-back's role instead. The Frenchman has done a commendable job but given the fact that Jerome Boateng has shown an affinity for making costly errors in big games, Die Roten are better off with Pavard playing centrally instead, at least till the time Hernandez returns from injury.
Bayern were linked with the likes of Benjamin Heinrichs, Thomas Meunier, Achraf Hakimi, and Dodo. Even Rafinha offered to come back. To be very frank, signing any of these players would have made no sense to me. What Bayern needed was a short term solution and nothing more. With the exception of Rafinha, all the aforementioned players either preferred other destinations or were only available as permanent signings. Bayern certainly didn't need this problem of plenty in the next season.
In this regard, while Odriozola isn't the best talent, I feel he fits the bill just fine. Pace and crossing are his main skills and we can most certainly exploit the same. He seems average defensively from whatever I've seen of him but if he's starting a game, I have to assume that Pavard will be playing at the heart of the defence. Additionally, a high work-rate midfield combination including the likes of Kimmich, Thiago Alcantara and Leon Goretzka should be more than able to fill in for Odriozola's back-tracking deficiencies.
The Spaniard will also help provide width to Thomas Muller, whom Flick has been fielding on the right flank in the absence of preferred wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman. The Raumdeuter loves ambling inside the penalty area to open himself as a passing outlet and Odriozola will be in a position to cover the wide areas left empty by the German.
Only time will tell how effective Odriozola turns out for Bayern, but he ticks most boxes on paper as of now.
The Sane saga
The long, drawn-out story regarding Bayern since the summer continues to stretch further. Most signs, including some good progress on Leroy Sane's end as far as return to match fitness is concerned, suggested that he was all set to swap the Manchester City blue for the Bavarian red this winter, but that was not to be. Hasan Salihamidzic was quick to rule out a transfer for Sane in January despite the player himself having changed his agent and being completely willing for the move.
This was obviously a shocker for most Bayern fans including myself. It's been evident for some time now that the club needs more attacking options in the wings. Ivan Perisic hasn't had enough impact, Coman's injury troubles have continued to haunt him, while Gnabry has also struggled with fitness. Our other option, Alphonso Davies has done well as a full-back and given the personnel issues at the back, Flick is unlikely to play him in an advanced role.
It's been well-documented how Bayern Munich have zeroed in on Sane as their preferred option for the flanks. Only an injury prevented his signing in the summer. So, why not bring him in when he's looking set to be available for selection soon? Die Roten also had the bargaining chips to bring the price down following his injury. In any case, this has certainly left the Bavarians devoid of premier attacking options up front.
While Bayern were linked with Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha too for a short while, it comes as no surprise that the board had no intentions of paying a premium for him and rightly so.
In other news
In what was welcome news for most fans, Bayern went ahead and secured goalkeeper Alexander Nubel's signature. The 23-year-old is set to join the Bavarians on a free next summer and looks set to be the successor to Manuel Neuer for the No.1 spot.
While there have been rumours of apparent tension between the two shot-stoppers, with most reports claiming that Neuer will be unwilling to sit out games for the new signing, there's no need to fret about the whole ordeal right now. As of today, this is another shrewd deal struck by the front office and is likely to reap good rewards in the future.
Finally, Bayern wrapped up proceedings by signing Ajax prodigy Nicolas Kuhn on a six-month loan. Bluntly put, the youngster's arrival doesn't really impact proceedings given the fact that he's playing for Bayern's second squad in Germany's third division and as a fan, I feel indifferent, for now at least.
No holds barred, this has been yet another disappointing transfer window for Bayern. The club's board continues to overestimate the strength of the squad at hand, despite several lessons learnt in the recent past and the increasing instances of long-term injuries to key players. While the defence was still shored up a bit, I see a lot of gaping holes in the side's vanguard.
The rejuvenation of Thomas Muller has certainly helped Bayern's cause, with the club absolutely dominating the first three games of the Rückrunde. However, I'm still sceptical whether he can lead Die Roten to victory on a night when Robert Lewandowski isn't at his best.
You can't stress enough the importance of quality up front. Just look at Erling Haaland whom perennial rivals Borussia Dortmund signed last month. He's already scored seven Bundesliga goals in 136 minutes. Barring the Polish striker, Bayern just don't have anyone who can come even remotely close to such prowess going forward, especially given Gnabry's tussle with match fitness and the subsequently patchy form.
The biggest shortcoming of the January transfer window is that Bayern still don't seem to have enough on paper when it comes to facing teams with solid defences – such as RB Leipzig, whom we face next week – especially given the fact that the side still has three competitions to compete in. I can only hope that Lewandowski continues his belligerent form in front of goal and for the sake of Bayern's chances, remains fully fit.Published 02 Feb 2020, 19:46 IST