Often in football transfer rumours are denied and smoke screens are put up, but in the case of Sandro Wagner, Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann has been more than open.
With Bayern Munich reportedly on the lookout in the next transfer window for a back-up striker to take the burden from Robert Lewandowski, the name of Sandro Wagner has been thrown in the ring and unusually it has not been thrown out.
“It is right, and we’ve known that for longer than yesterday,” Nagelsmann told a news conference for his side’s game versus Eintracht Frankfurt when asked to comment on the rumour.
“We are aware of his interest [in a move]. We will make an announcement if there’s something to announce. There are no grudges that he’s interested, but there is sympathy. It’s not my player, he belongs to the club. If the clubs reach an agreement, you try to compensate for things as a coach.”
It is believed that Wagner would command a fee in the region of €10 million. For the 29-year-old striker it would see him come full circle returning to the club he joined as an 8-year-old back in 1995.
So does Sandro Wagner signing for Bayern Munich in the Winter Pause make sense?
Wagner is Munich born and bred and as soon as his talent was recognised, he was playing first for Hertha Munich and then from aged 8 with Bayern. He moved through the youth ranks to make his Regionalliga debut in 2006 with a certain Mats Hummels also in the starting line-up.
He progressed to making his first-team debut in 2007 but was limited to just four appearances for Bayern before moving to MSV Duisburg. He still has family in Unterhaching and has made no secret in the past that his heart belongs in Munich. Speaking in January 2017 he said, “Bayern is my club and will always be my club. Therefore I can imagine returning someday. Whether it is as a player or in another function I don’t know.”
Bayern is well-known as a ‘family’ so the return of a Münchener like Wagner would fit. The fact that his agent is also a certain Roman Rummenigge, son of Karl-Heinz, will also help.
There isn’t a club that polarises opinion and attracts the dislike of others like Bayern and there is probably no other player in the league right now that polarises opinion and attracts the dislike of others like Sandro Wagner. He has the arrogant swagger that ultimate self-confidence engenders, but while someone like Zlatan Ibrahimovic can pull it off with action on the pitch backing up his words, Wagner has not reached those levels.
From a purely personality point of view it would seem that Wagner would be a fit with the club and the supporters would take to him, but he’d have to accept that he would be playing second fiddle to Robert Lewandowski and not be, as he declared in 2016- ‘the best German attacker by a mile.’
After flattering to deceive for so many years, the past few seasons have seen Wagner hit double figured in the goal charts. The 2015-16 season saw him score 14 for Darmstadt and last season he banged in 11 for Hoffenheim.
He is by no means the complete striker, but he does get on the end of chances and can finish. At Bayern there would be no shortage of chances coming his way and with his strength in the air, the ammunition provided from the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry and Kingsley Coman would be like manna from heaven.
The World Cup
There is a question mark as to whether Wagner would be prepared to move to Bayern as a bench-warmer with the World Cup now just seven months away. However, the striker position is one that Joachim Löw does not have a plethora of options, so even with limited opportunities behind Lewandowski, it would still be conceivable that he’d make the final cut for the 2018 World Cup squad.
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