Whatever happens next season over at Bayern, one thing is for sure — Pep Guardiola will not be able to use the old ‘injury crisis’ excuse should his midfield area not perform to expectations.
With the Bavarians set to begin their pre-season training next week, the Bayern boss is going to have an embarrassment of midfield riches at his disposal above and beyond what is usually the case even for FCB.
By my reckoning the Bundesliga Rekordmeister will have no less than 17 players fighting to fill the places in midfield. Guardiola does like to line-up in a 3-4-3-system and if you include the two wide players alongside the striker as part of the ‘midfield’ then there are just six places on offer to be fought out between the 17 candidates.
Throughout his career as a coach it has always been important to the Spanish trainer to possess an advantage in midfield. The current personnel at Bayern certainly gives him that.
The Bayern coach once said that he would ideally have a thousand midfielders in his squad. If die Roten keep going like they are just now, he could find his wishes fulfilled very soon.
The fact that Pep will in all likelihood even use his talented full-backs such as Philipp Lahm, David Alaba, Juan Bernat and Rafinha in an advanced role will just rub salt into the wounds of his fellow Bundesliga coaches, who would probably sell their own grandmothers to have a left or right-back of similar quality at their disposal.
Since winning their 25th Bundesliga title at a canter (or was it a trot? maybe a walk?) last season the moneybags at the Allianz Arena have further weakened their opponents and added to their burgeoning ranks by acquiring Joshua Kimmich from VfB Stuttgart/ RB Leipzig, as well as recalling both Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg and Julian Green from loan spells. The imminent signing of Douglas Costa from Shakhtar Donetsk brings the new arrivals to four.
It will be a case of four + thirteen = seventeen as they join Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, a fit again Javi Martinez, Mario Götze, Sebastian Rode, Thomas Müller and youngster Gianluca Gaudino.
Whether it is fair that Bayern are stockpiling midfielders like bottled water ahead of a potential drought is a question for another article, but man-management and keeping all the eggs in his basket happy is going to one of Pep Guardiola’s major tasks next season — aside from winning the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, Champions League and DFL Super Cup as expected.
And if the Angel di Maria rumours persist, then it could be a case for the European Union to rule that Bayern have broken ‘fair competition’ rules. There’s taking the **** and then there is taking the ****.
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