It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A couple of months have passed and I’ve tried to take a bit of a step back from football in general, seeing as it managed to pretty much totally encompass my life during the 2018/19 season. My life just became a constant cycle of playing Football Manager, watching City, writing about City and then finding reasons to abuse Liverpool and their fans on Twitter.
It was a long old slog, so it felt good to step away from it all. Like a Manc Walter White, the domestic treble was the $80 million meth-selling jackpot which I needed to call it a day and settle down with my spouse who, deep down, I hate. Now, like the neo-nazi meth dealers who I asked to murder my ex-partner so he wouldn’t grass me up to my brother-in-law who has learned of my criminal past, the 2019/20 pre-season has pulled me back in to the writing game which I swore to never return to. On an unrelated note, I will give precisely ONE Twitter follow to anybody who can guess what I spent my summer watching on Netflix.
It’s been difficult to really get an idea of what’s going on in the transfer market but, after some careful, detailed detective work, I think I’ve been able to unearth some juicy transfer gossip for you.
It’s a bit of a long shot, I have to admit, but reading between the lines with everything that’s been coming out of Germany and triangulating that with some things which are coming out of England, as well as some hidden messages that are layered within what some club officials and players are saying, I’ve been able to crack the code…
Bayern Munich are indeed interested in Leroy Sané.
I know what you’re thinking, the German giants – who we beat to the initial signing of Leroy back in 2016 – wanting one of the best young German players who plays in a position which they’re hilariously light in, you must be kidding. Well, you’d be right, I am kidding. This isn’t a greatly hidden secret at all, Bayern have been making it painfully apparent since the season ended.
So, let’s provide a bit of context for Bayern Munich’s brazen approach for the player. Bayern Munich live in a Bundesliga bubble and, for the most part, the bulk of their transfer activity is based around the club bullying and financially strong-arming their fellow German clubs into giving up their best players. They’ve accrued the majority of Germany’s young talents but they’ve mostly done so due to the fact they’ve turned the league into a joke. Klopp’s Dortmund gave them a brief scare, so they responded by buying one of their best players in Mario Götze and then taking Bundesliga top scorer, Robert Lewandowski, on a free transfer a year later. When Hoffenheim broke into the top four, Bayern took half of the spine of their team by taking Niklas Süle and Sebastien Rudy. Stuttgart have got close to the European spots and have been rewarded by having their best defender in Benjamin Pavard hoovered up by Bayern. The lack of competition in the league isn’t an accident.
This is a running theme throughout their squad. Of their current squad of 20 players (yeah, there’s a reason they’re desperate to get Sané in), nine have been taken from fellow Bundesliga teams. Of those nine, Leon Goretzka and Robert Lewandowski were picked up for absolutely nothing, each convinced to run down their contract once Bayern made their interest clear in the year or two leading up to their contract expiry date. The remaining seven players cost Bayern (according to transfermarkt) a total £97.2 million, though it’s worth noting that £76.5 million of that was spent on just Manuel Neuer, Niklas Süle and Benjamin Pavard. In the last seven years, eight Bundesliga players have been brought in for free.
So what is the point of these numbers, I hear you ask? Well, the main point is that Bayern is a club which is very used to getting its own way. In the Bundesliga, there are very few times that they’ve made their intentions clear to a club or player regarding their desire to sign a player and not got their man. Whether it’s bending Werder Bremen over and taking Serge Gnabry for only £7.2 million or whispering sweet nothings into Sebastian Rudy’s ear during a season in which he was Hoffenheim’s best player to secure him on a free transfer at the end of it, only to then turn him into a squad rotation player and then sell him a year later, or slowly ripping the spine out of a Borussia Dortmund team which briefly threatened their dominance by taking Götze, Lewandowski and Hummels over four summers. If they want a top player in the Bundesliga there’s at least an 80% chance they’ll get him. 95% if they’re German.
So, in 2016 when Schalke’s hot prospect, Leroy Sané, had a bidding war going on for him between German super club, Bayern Munich, and Pep Guardiola’s new club, oil-rich, FFP-dodging, UEFA-usurping, market-distorting Manchester City, Bayern could probably be forgiven for having the arrogance to believe that the youngster would pick them. I was personally absolutely convinced that he’d be holding a Bayern Munich shirt with “Sané 2021” on the back whilst Karl-Heinz Rummenigge gave him a gentle shoulder massage by the end of the transfer window. It was a legitimate shock to me when he picked us, such is the perceived power of Bayern Munich in the German market.
Bayern probably took this transfer saga as a bit of an insult. In the midst of the transfer saga between Bayern and City for Sané, Rummenigge was quoted saying, “There are rumours Sané is going to City. Young players must decide if they are planning for sport or finances”, which no doubt made him feel rather stupid when Leroy opted to join the blues.
There are also rumours that when Guardiola left the Bavarian club, such was the strength of his relationship with Uli Hoeneß and Rummenigge, he shook hands with the Bayern hierarchy and promised he’d never go after any of their players. They then probably saw the fact Guardiola went after one of their transfer targets as some sort of terrible betrayal and the fact City beat them to the most highly-rated German youngster in the last five or six years, combined with the fact that they took the best manager in the world right from under their noses, has knocked their nose irreparably out of joint.
Bayern have a club motto, “Mia san mia”, which basically translates to “we are who we are”. It’s a Bavarian motto which is effectively an unapologetic (see also: arrogant) way of saying “we do it our way, we’re successful, deal with it”. Apparently, according to German people who I work with, this is a very Bavarian mindset and so it’s no wonder that the region’s most successful club has fully embraced this.
So, when you consider the Bundesliga environment Bayern have operated within for the last decade, in which the rest of the league has almost become hardwired into being training grounds for Bayern, combined with their obvious lack of respect for Manchester City, it’s no wonder they’ve approached this current Sanè situation with a hilarious level of arrogance.
The transfer window began with rumours of Leroy being unhappy at the lack of game time he’d been getting. I fully understand his viewpoint, to go from being an integral part of the 2017/18 squad to a relative bit-part player in the following season is a bitter pill for any player to swallow, especially one as highly rated as Leroy. Soon enough Bayern saw a second chance to get their man and they initiated “Project Media Overload”.
As early as May 24th, less than a week after the FA Cup Final, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told German outlet, BILD, that Bayern would try to sign Leroy. Two days later, he reaffirmed his stance yet again by saying the same thing. A week later he spoke out again, saying that the decision ultimately lay with whether or not Sané had any interest in joining Bayern.
Over the next few weeks, quotes were coming out of the Bayern camp with such regularity that it was as if Rummenigge had decided to sleep on a sofa in the BILD offices, waking occasionally to remind anybody who’d listen that they are indeed interested in Sanè. Next thing you know, Uli Hoeneß was crawling out of his prison cell to give his own briefings to the media.
As Leroy departed for international duty for some post-season friendlies, the club engaged Phase Two of Project Media Overload; Player Power. The Germany friendlies were taking place in Deutschland and so naturally a lot of Bayern-centric media were there to ask the whole squad what they thought of the Sanè speculation and every Bayern-based German player was more than happy to speak up about it.
Of course, players are allowed their opinions and they’re allowed to express them but the co-ordinated nature of the player statements which were leaking from the camp on a daily basis made it difficult to believe that there wasn’t a brief sent out to the entire squad; we want Leroy Sanè to join. Rummenigge must have been rubbing his hands together with delight at the idea of their number one transfer target spending a solid week surrounded by multiple Bayern players who could attempt to change his mind.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way; this clearly isn’t a wild goose chase for Bayern. You don’t go this publicly hard for a player who hasn’t given you some indication that he’s at least open to the idea of the move. To what extent is unclear, but Leroy has definitely entertained an approach from the Bundesliga behemoth. Leroy may very well be fully committed to leaving City, who are we to know?
Irrespective of this, the method of Bayern’s approach reeks of both desperation and disrespect. If the rumours are true that Pep promised he’d never take any of Bayern’s players, and numerous sources have claimed this to be true, then the bullish media campaign coming from Bayern with the ultimate endgame of robbing one of Pep’s players looks even worse. City’s financial muscle could have easily prized the likes of Kimmich from Bayern’s cold, dead, German grip but we never even considered it because Pep is a man of his word.
Hoeneß and Rummenigge are two men who Pep still has great respect for, at a club which Pep clearly regards highly and looks back on his time at with great fondness and reverence. The fact they are blatantly undermining Pep’s club at every opportunity they’re given to talk about one of his star players says everything about the lack of (sorry for using the C word) class the club and its higher-ups possess.
It’s not enough that club legends have been put up in front of the media to big up the transfer and try to influence proceedings, with Matthaus and Kahn both offering their tuppence throughout, but for the manager, Nico Kovač, to outright admit in his press conference that they’re after the player is ridiculous and almost goes against an unwritten code of conduct amongst managers. There’s only one response to a transfer-related question and it’s something to the effect of “I will only talk about players for my club”.
Throughout this entire process it has been a huge source of frustration that Manchester City and Pep have not had their say on the situation. No senior sources made any swift moves to shut down the rumours besides the occasional media brief to some of the British press that Sané hasn’t actually made his decision yet and that City aren’t looking to sell, each of which is easily brushed aside by Christian Falk and other Bayern mouthpieces who assert Bayern’s interest and City’s willingness to sell at the behest of the German club.
That is until Pep’s pre-season press conference when he first had his opportunity to speak publicly on the situation, in which he made Sané’s importance to the squad rather clear. He also asserted that, despite Bayern’s repeated statements, no bid had been made yet.
In a dark room in the Allianz, surrounded by a tank of sharks with laser beams attached to their heads while stroking a cat, Rummenigge laughed menacingly. He pressed the button on his chair labelled “Project Media Overload” and called up a journalist which his evil chair picked at random.
“I do not know if Pep Guardiola knows everything which is going on at his own club.”
If everything up until this point had been disrespectful then there’s not a word in the vocabulary for what this is. The footballing equivalent of Jordan snaking Ovie to try and get to India despite being in a committed couple in Love Island (which I definitely don’t watch), Rummenigge has just pulled Pep’s pants down in the media and implied that he has no idea how his own club is run and isn’t in the know regarding their transfers and the status of ongoing deals.
Finally, at long last, this was the bale of hay which broke the camel’s back. For too long have this self-important, holier-than-thou German powerhouse had free reign in the media over Manchester City and Guardiola, saying whatever they like in a public pursuit of a player who, at least officially, isn’t for sale.
A senior source from Manchester City finally broke the radio silence coming from Manchester City, claiming that they are not in negotiations with the German club and have no intention of selling. They’ve since doubled down on this and claimed that they have no interest in selling the player to Bayern and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where a club as public and vehement in their interest as the Bavarians could ever come away from this without having to pay the full asking price. A price which Hoeneß has referred to as “insane”, which is probably to be expected when you’re trying to buy a very good player from another top European club who isn’t explicitly for sale and hasn’t asked to leave.
Honestly, I hope we never sell a player to Bayern Munich in our entire existence. I hope we accept a lower bid for Leroy from any other club on the planet, just so Bayern don’t get him. The utter contempt with which they’ve treated Manchester City and, by extension, Guardiola throughout this entire process has been nothing short of disgusting and is typical of the kind of arrogance a decade of rolling over the Bundesliga with minimal contest gets you.
Bayern may be able to push around the likes of Stuttgart and Werder Bremen who are just happy to get £30 million and go back to fighting relegation or reaching for mid-table success, but they’re dealing with a club which has just come off the back of two consecutive Premier League titles with a combined 198 points, as well as winning a domestic treble. They’re trying to take a player we aren’t actively trying to sell. It’ll take more than sweet talking Christian Falk and BILD to get us to give up our players.
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