What not so long ago looked like being a dismal season for Bayern Munich could yet turn out to be an historic one. 17 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, the Bavarians are set for a sixth successive league title, with Jupp Heynckes also leading his side to the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal. What’s more, they are in the quarter finals of the Champions League and, after being paired with Sevilla, should be plotting a course for the semis.
Heynckes has restored Bayern Munich’s swagger since his return from retirement earlier in the season. They had become unsure of themselves under Carlo Ancelotti, falling well short of the level that is expected of the great Bavarian side. Now, things look to be heading in the right direction again.
But this shouldn’t mask that this is a Bayern Munich team on the brink of an almighty transition. The current generation is one of the greatest in the club’s illustrious history. The likes of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski are legends at the Allianz Arena, winning title after title for Bayern Munich.
This is a generation that has already taken Bayern to the top of the European game, winning the 2013 Champions League title after making the final the year before. But regardless of whether they add another continental honour to their record this season, the German giants must start looking to the future sooner rather than later.
For starters, they must identity a long-term successor to Heynckes. Despite his success since taking over from Ancelotti, the suggestion remains that the 72-year-old will return to the shadows at the end of the current campaign, with Joachim Low, Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel all mentioned as potential candidates for the job. Perhaps more ambitiously, Mauricio Pochettino has also appeared on Bayern Munich’s radar of late and the appointment of the Argentinean would provide a real statement of intent.
On the pitch, major investment is also required. Ribery and Robben have been great servants, and are still playing at a high level, but are undoubtedly in the twilight of their careers. Successors must be found. Up front, Lewandowski is reportedly edging closer to a move to Real Madrid. This is speculated summer after summer, but this time the claims seem to carry more weight. This could be the last chance the Polish striker gets to secure his dream move.
Bayern Munich are shrewd transfer market operators. They have already lined up the signing of Loan Goretzka as a free agent for the summer, following on from the smart addition of Kingsley Coman (on a permanent deal) and James Rodriguez last summer. But they have been left behind, financially, by some of their rivals.
They broke the club’s transfer record to sign Corentin Tolisso from Lyon last summer, but even that only cost them £37 million. If Bayern Munich want to continue to compete at the top level after this current generation, they must pluck from the top level of the transfer market. And that will cost them. Whichever way you look at it, Bayern are at a critical point in their modern history.
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