Since the announcement of Pep Guardiola as new Bayern München coach for next season, there has been plenty of speculation in the football media from around the world as to who are going to be his first signings for the Bavarian club. Contradicting information has been printed about the subject, from the alleged 240m€ that he’ll have at his disposal published in some Barcelona-based newspapers to the information that he will only make one or two signings, also printed in other Spanish media.
What is pretty certain is that he will bring in players that suit more his style of play, formation and philosophy. Many names have been thrown into the hat but here are the names that will be heavily linked to a move to Säbener Straße at the end of the season.
Isco – Málaga CF – 20 years old – Attacking midfielder. Value: 15-21m€
Isco has been one of the revelations of this Málaga side that has impressed so much in Europe this season. Playing as an attacking midfielder but also being able to play a bit deeper if needed, Isco is a player who pulls the strings, who can score goals, who can create wonderful assists and who can really make the difference. A regular Spain U21 player, Isco started his career at Valencia but only made a handful of appearances for los ches before making a 6m€ move back to his native Málaga in the summer of 2011.
To make a comparison in order for people to get an idea of his role, Isco would play the same role Iniesta plays at Barça, a link between the forwards and the midfielders, a player with quick feet who can draw defenders towards him freeing space for the strikers in case he chooses the killer pass instead of the shot, two goalscoring possibilities which is what makes defences doubt and Isco so dangerous. His inclusion in the Bayern squad would allow Schweinsteiger to sit deeper and perform more defensive roles (not necessarily without the ball, since Guardiola’s idea of defence is ball possession).
Since Málaga will not be playing in Europe next season due to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play scheme, Isco will be attracting a lot of attention from the big clubs this summer and there are strong rumours that Real Madrid will be looking to secure his services and that he will be their #1 transfer target. This means that there will be an auction for his services, with his release clause at 35m€. Expect the fee to be around that.
Likelihood of transfer: 80%
Iker Muniain – Athletic Club Bilbao – 20 years old – Winger/Forward. Value: 25-30m€
This small and tricky forward became Athletic Bilbao’s youngest ever player at the age of 16 during a Europa League tie. Ever since, Muniain has been in the spotlight for being the latest gem to come out of the famous Athletic Bilbao youth academy. A goalscorer who can play just as comfortably on the wing or up front, Muniain enjoys taking players on and is tricky on the ball, as well as having lightning speed over the first 30 yards. Definitely not a player to rely on goals, Muniain’s main role is to break defences and set up goals. Guardiola likes players who exploit the flanks and open up spaces in the middle, and Muniain would do just that, drawing defenders wide for the central players to exploit the room left when they are out of position.
Since Athletic lost Javi Martínez to Bayern in the summer and have just sold Fernando Llorente to Juventus for a summer transfer, all of the fans’ hopes will rest on Muniain for the future, and Athletic will definitely not sell cheaply or easily.
Likelihood of transfer: 30%
Beñat – Real Betis – 25 years old – Central midfielder. Value: 15-20m€
One of the surprises this season in La Liga has been Real Betis, and a big part of this success is down to their midfield maestro Beñat. Beñat wasn’t deemed good enough by Athletic Bilbao at the age of 21 and was released, ending up in Spain’s Third Division. After a successful season at Conquense, Betis’ B team picked him up and after impressing there, he was moved up to the first team and has never looked back. Beñat was instrumental in their promotion back to La Liga thanks to the vision and precision in his passing.
If Isco is Iniesta, Beñat is Xavi. He would definitely keep the ball moving for the Bavarian side, one of Guardiola’s key tactical moves. If one player exemplified Guardiola’s reign at Barça that was Sergio Busquets, a player who can read the game well and keep the ball moving with minimum touches. Whilst Beñat is obviously not at the same level as Busquets, he is not far behind and he would most definitely be a Guardiola-esque acquisition, the pick of all three.
He was strongly rumoured to move to Chelsea during this January transfer window but it seems almost certain that he will stay at Betis until the summer. Betis have said that anyone who wants him will have to pay the 20m€ of his release clause, but with his contract up in 2014, there might be room for bargaining.
Likelihood of transfer: 70%