Bayern need to spend this summer if they hope to make it back to the Champions League final. Here are five players they should pursue.
For the sixth straight season, Bayern won the Bundesliga title. However, for the second straight season, they were eliminated by Real Madrid in Champions League.
Winning the Bundesliga title has become routine for the club. Success in the Champions League now determines whether they can consider a given season a success.
1. Memphis Depay
When former Bayern manager Louis van Gaal took over at Manchester United, one of the biggest signings he made in his second summer with the club was Memphis Depay. The Dutch winger arrived at the club with high expectations coming off of a strong World Cup in 2014 and a 28-goal season with PSV in 2015.
However, Depay’s tenure with Manchester United was very disappointing. The Dutch winger struggled to fit in or create chances and never carved out a role with the club. In 53 games, Depay scored only seven goals. When Jose Mourhino took over for van Gaal after the end of the 2015-16 season, Depay didn’t fit in with Mourhino’s plan for the club. As a result, Depay barely played in his second season with the club.
After 18 months, Depay’s tenure in Manchester ended. Lyon bought the Netherlands international for €16 million, a significantly discounted price compared to the €34 million United paid. Depay proved his time in Manchester was a speedbump in his career. Since joining Lyon, the Dutch winger has revitalized his career. In 68 games across all competitions, Depay has scored 25 goals and assisted 24 others.
Lyon can now cash in on Depay with his value at a high point. The French club could receive a return on their investment of double what they paid for Depay. With Bayern Munich, Depay would be a natural replacement for Robben and Ribery. Still only 24 years old, Depay has room to grow as a player and can continue to get better.
2. Aaron Caricol
With David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich have two great full-backs. Alaba turns 26 this year, while Kimmich is 23. Both players should continue to be in the prime of their careers for years to come. However, Alaba has struggled to stay healthy and the Austrian left-back has hinted he’s considering leaving the club.
While Juan Bernat and Rafinha are capable backups in the Bundesliga, they don’t make the cut as the rounds advance in Champions League. Bayern Munich could probably get away with starting either Bernat or Rafinha the entire Bundesliga season and still win the title. However, in the knockout stages in Europe, their mistakes cost Bayern. Bernat struggled against Sevilla, losing his man in coverage, while a Rafinha slip cost Bayern the first leg against Real Madrid.
Bayern need to get another high-caliber full-back who could replace Alaba should he leave or provide an upgrade over the soon-to-be 33-year-old Rafinha, who recently signed a one-year extension.
Aaron Caricol would be a solid option for Bayern. The Spanish left-back plays for Espanyol, where he broke into the lineup as an 18-year-old. This season, the 21-year-old appeared in 31 La Liga games, playing almost 2800 minutes and drawing comparisons to Jordi Alba.
Caricol reportedly has a €30 million buy-out clause which fits inside of Bayern’s buying range. However, several Premier League clubs are also interested in Caricol. That could drive the price up above the buyout clause. Bayern have shown in the past they’re unwilling to spend big on transfer fees. The German club’s record signing is Corentin Tolisso, who cost €41.5 million.
Another alternative to Caricol is Valencia’s Jose Gaya. Despite being only 22 years old, Gaya has made 145 appearances for Valencia since making his debut as a 17-year-old. Gaya is a more advanced prospect with Champions League and Europa League experience. However, he comes with a €50 million release clause and has drawn interest from the top four Premier League clubs.
3. Leon Bailey
Bayer Leverkusen bought Leon Bailey from Genk 18 months ago for €13.5 million, beating out several Premier League clubs for his signature. After a breakout season with Leverkusen, the club could receive at least three times that much for Bailey. The 20-year-old scored 12 goals and added six assists in 34 games in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.
The Jamacian winger combines speed and dribbling ability to create scoring chances. Robben and Ribery aren’t getting any younger, and for Bayern to advance to the Champions League final they need dependable options on the wing. At this point in their careers, Robben and Ribery aren’t that. Robben was injured in the first five minutes against Real Madrid and didn’t play in the second leg. If Bayern Munich were able to replace Robben, they could have beaten Real Madrid.
The biggest problem with Bailey: He might already be out of the price range for Bayern. Manchester City bought Leroy Sane for €50.5 million in 2016. Following the Neymar transfer and the market’s inflation, Baley’s transfer fee could surpass the amount City paid for Sane. The same Premier League clubs who were unable to sign Bailey 18 months ago will again try to sign the Jamaican.
4. Julian Draxler
Julian Draxler made his debut for Schalke as an 18-year-old and has been a fixture with the German national team since 2014. However, his club career hasn’t been as successful as his international career. Draxler has won the World Cup and Confederations Cup but hasn’t stuck with a club for very long. The winger and Schalke failed to come to an agreement on an extension and he was sold to Wolfsburg as a replacement for Kevin De Bruyne. After reaching the Champions League quarterfinal in his first season with the club, things went downhill and Wolfsburg have struggled to recover. Draxler was sold to Paris-Saint Germain.
In a half season with PSG, Draxler was excellent, scoring 10 goals in all competitions. In the summer window, PSG went on one of the most expensive spending sprees in history, buying Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. The signings left nowhere for Draxler, Angel Di Maria and Hatem Ben Arfa to play.
Failing to advance past the quarterfinals in Champions League this season, PSG will likely have to deal with financial fair play restrictions and will likely need to sell players. Draxler is an obvious candidate to be sold. The German winger was rumored to go to Bayern Munich in the winter window but it never materialized. Six months later, the possibility it happens likely increases. Bayern would get an obvious replacement for Ribery and Robben, and at a discounted price.
Draxler’s experience playing alongside of Thomas Muller with the national team is another positive. The two have displayed strong chemistry together and that should only get better with more time together.
5. Jonathan Tah
Jerome Boateng has hinted at wanting a new challenge, feeling he has nothing left to prove at Bayern. The German international suffered a season-ending injury against Real Madrid and has struggled to stay healthy the past two season. With Niko Kovac fond of a back three, Bayern will need to improve their center-back depth. In addition to Boateng, Bayern have Niklas Sule and Mats Hummels. That’s about it. Sule and Tah are expected to be the starting center-back pairing for Germany when Hummels and Boateng retire.
Jonathan Tah is an obvious option. The towering defender is one of the best up-and-comers in the Bundesliga. Joachim Low noticed and named the Bayer Leverkusen center-back to his provisional World Cup squad. The 22-year-old has already made 124 appearances for Hamburg and Leverkusen across all competitions. Tah has Champions League experience, which a positive for Bayern.
With Tah signed until 2023, Leverkusen are in a strong position, and Tah’s price could skyrocket as a result. Tottenham bought Davinson Sanchez for €40 million last summer and Tah will likely cost teams at least that much. If Leverkusen do decide to sell, they’ll likely receive at least five times what they initially paid Hamburg for Tah.
If Bayern are priced out of the Tah market, they could turn to Issa Diop. The Toulouse center-back is also drawing interest from bigger clubs but should have a slightly lower price tag than Tah. Diop is also a towering defender who can use his height to win aerial duels and scored three goals this season.
Gambling on a French center-back with a boatload of potential has been a wise decision for big clubs across Europe lately. Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano and Clement Lenglet have all experienced success in La Liga, the Premier League and Bundesliga recently.