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OPINION: Where is Bayern’s place in world soccer?

So many uncertainties around the club’s future begs the question: where is Bayern’s place in the wide world of soccer?

The World Cup is in full swing. Most of us have turned our attention to Russia, and rightfully so. The biggest sporting event in the world provides many talking points. One such topic of discussion is Germany having a harder time than expected through group stage play. Fans of Die Mannschaft were left bewildered by their team’s dreadful displays against Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.

This feeling is nothing new to Bayern Munich fans, though, who have found themselves navigating this uncertainty in their club as well. After a run up to the UEFA Champions League semifinals showed great promise and had supporters whispering to each other about another Jupp Heynckes treble, the wheels came off.

Injuries to Arturo Vidal, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Arjen Robben and Kingsley Coman played a role, but the form of the club dropped off significantly. After falling to Real Madrid, yet again, Die Roten let the DFB Pokal slip away to incoming manager Niko Kovac and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Off the field, different storms were brewing and the dark clouds continue to grow on the horizon. Robert Lewandowski has been the subject of many reports linking the Polish striker to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris-Saint Germain. Thiago is rumored to have caught the eye of the La Liga giants as well. CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge continues to make comments about Jerome Boateng moving on from the club and openly declaring Lewandowski as staying in Munich, despite the Pole’s desire to move along.

To top it all off, new manager Niko Kovac is rumored to have been a few names down the list of candidates Bayern Munich’s higher-ups wanted to take the club’s reins. After failing to convince Jupp Heynckes to stay on as manager for another season and losing Thomas Tuchel to PSG, Kovac’s name was somewhat of a surprise to the soccer world.

All this leads me to ask the question: Is Bayern slipping from their reputation as an elite club in the world?

I don’t know if I have a concrete opinion, but the goings on at Säbener Straße have seemed less “Bayern-like” than in the past. The German giants have been a destination, previously. Players and coaches desire to reach the Champions League final and play for or coach a world-class club have been major draws. However, the rumors now seem to be mostly centered on what players are leaving or who is unhappy with who in the club. These are common to many big name clubs to be sure, but with Bayern things have been different.

Perhaps the club is a victim of its own success. Six straight Bundesliga titles, perennially appearing in the DFB Pokal final and a steady handful of deep UCL runs eventually become inadequate to a supporter. The expectations grow with each consecutive Bundesliga title. Players want to be challenged to prove themselves at the highest level, and although they have the Champions League, the Bundesliga is considered too weak to provide a challenge to the Bavarians. Players would rather play in the Premier League or La Liga, where a league title might be looked on as a more legitimate accomplishment.

Whatever the case, FCB finds itself on shakier ground than usual.  Is the plan to steer away from the big spending approach taken by Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United and PSG? Maybe Kovac will come in with fresh eyes and turn Bayern into a juggernaut once again. One that will not only dominate Germany, but also Europe. Only time will tell, but as the World Cup comes to a conclusion, the noise will get louder and transfer rumors will increase. Are more of the top talents looking to get into the Bayern squad or are they looking to other clubs?

 

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