It seems it was only yesterday when the ‘silly season’ of the summer transfer window ended, but the countdown to the next period of transfer speculation, rumour-mongering, and downright made-up lies has begun.
The summer saw the almost-unthinkable actually happen when Bastian Schweinsteiger ended a 14-year relationship with Bayern Munich and switched to Manchester United. The Red Devils also reportedly made a big money offer for Thomas Müller. It is rumoured the Premiership giants will reignite their interest in the Raumdeuter in January. In all likelihood, it will be not only the Old Trafford club trailing the forward, with Chelsea also purported to be keeping an eye on developments.
Lothar Matthäus has come out this week to stress that Müller would be better off staying at the Allianz Arena, telling Bild, “(Müller) does not need Manchester United or Chelsea. Barcelona perhaps could use him, but I do not know whether he can deal with their game.”
“My opinion is he should definitely stay at Bayern for his lifetime, continued Matthäus. “He started his professional career at Bayern, and I think he should end his career here. He does not need any new challenge as he is always playing at the highest level every year at Bayern.”
Fair enough, but the words of Matthäus are hardly likely to dissuade United or Chelsea from upping their interest in acquiring the Bayern forward.
What is the likelihood of Bayern’s favoured son following the example of Schweinsteiger and leaving the Bundesliga for the allure of the Premier League? Let’s cut through the transfer speculation and look at the pros and cons of any potential Müller transfer, be it in January or next summer.
The van Gaal Factor
A big pull for the 26-year-old would surely be the chance to link-up with his former mentor Louis van Gaal. It was the Dutchman who promoted Müller from within back in 2009, and the two developed quite a professional relationship. The current Manchester United coach once, when asked about team selection, responded simply ‘Müller always plays.’ Van Gaal gave him his chance, turned him into a first-team regular, and would clearly love to collaborate once again.
The Guardiola Factor
If the van Gaal relationship is a pull factor, could the Pep Guardiola relationship prove to be a push factor? Under van Gaal, Müller was ever-present. Under Guardiola, there have been some high-profile substitutions of Müller, such as last season’s Champions League semifinal against Barcelona and the DFB Pokal semifinal versus Borussia Dortmund to name just two. There have also been reports of a training ground row between the two, leading to speculation that not all is well in the Bayern family.
At 26-years-old, Müller has already chalked up quite a list of honours at Bayern: four Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokals, as well as a Champions League and FIFA World Club Cup triumph all are on his personal roll of honour. Could it be that he needs a new challenge with life at the Allianz Arena proving a little safe? The Bavarians are coasting to yet another league triumph, and Müller looks set for his best-ever goalscoring season. He is a competitive and driven individual, meaning that the challenge of a crack at the Premier League could appeal.
Bayern may have just announced record profits of €23.8 million, but you can’t get away from the fact that in today’s game, everybody has their price. Reports of summer bids approaching €100 million may or may not be totally accurate, but a player of Müller’s undoubted quality could command a fee in that region, and there are clubs in the money-laden Premier League especially, who would be more-than-prepared to splash such a sum on one player. Many people could not foresee Bastian Schweinsteiger leaving the club, but he did. Bayern will do all they can to keep their prized asset, but the old adage ‘money talks’ rings very true nowadays.
‘No!’ means ‘no!’
Money may talk, but a club the size of Bayern are not in the habit of being pushed around, even financially. They may often hoover up the talent from the Borussia Dortmund conveyor belt (Götze, Lewandowski), but they don’t like it when the flow goes the other way. Toni Kroos and Schweinsteiger have been two recent examples, but the loss of Müller would be a real dent to their prestige. CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has rebuffed all offers so far, and there is no reason why he won’t continue to play hardball.
Mia San Mia
Bayern Sporting director Matthias Sammer has made it clear that any overtures from United or Chelsea would be unwelcome. “Thomas Muller embodies everything which distinguishes FC Bayern Munich,” says Sammer. “He is an absolute role model, an absolute gem, and he’s irreplaceable.”
The club’s saying ‘mia san mia’ (we are who we are) would not ring as true were the Bavarians to sell their prized homegrown asset. Müller is not just one of their best players, he embodies the club and carries on his shoulders great responsibility. It is hard to imagine Bayern being ‘who they are’ should they sell. Steven Gerrard famously rebuffed Chelsea on a couple of occasions with both the club and the player finding it impossible to countenance a move.
United on the Wane/Mourin-No!
Depending on which side of the footballing debate you stand (here at the Fanatic, it is pretty clear), it could be argued that a move to either Manchester United or Chelsea would be a step down for Thomas Müller. As Lothar Matthäus has outlined, United or the Blues of London might not exactly match up to what he can achieve at Bayern.
Yes, United have the draw of Louis van Gaal, but the Dutch coach has already stated that, under pressure from his wife, his time at the club will not go on much longer. Historically, Chelsea have always been in the hunt for top players, and Müller would seem an ideal replacement should they finally lose patience with Diego Costa. But their form this season has seen Mourinho lose a little (a lot!) of his shine. Again, it may be a case of ‘the devil you know.’
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