Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich: Bad for Bundesliga, good for Germany

The deal is still not quite over the line, but it seems likely to end in the most predictable way — with a German international moving to Bayern Munich.

According to media reports in Germany and England, Manchester City winger is close to completing a €50 million ($55 million) move to the Bundesliga champions. German tabloid Bild reported that Sane was on his way to Munich on Wednesday and will complete his medical with the club on Thursday before inking a contract until 2025.

“There are some little issues, but it looks like he is going to go to Munich. We wish him all the best and thanks for our years together,” Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, who coached Bayern from 2013 to 2016, told reporters on Wednesday.

Sane, 24, will join Joshua Kimmich, 25, Leon Goretzka, 25, Serge Gnabry, 24, and Niklas Süle, 24, in Bavaria, adding to a formidable core of German players approaching or in their prime. All were developed elsewhere, and most were purchased with their contracts running down or expired.

“Whenever Bayern shaped an era and was very successful, there was a strong group of German players who also controlled the atmosphere in the dressing room,” sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic told tabloid Sport Bild after the 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund that all-but sealed their eighth successive title in May.

“It’s no coincidence that Joshua, Serge, Leon, Niklas play with us. They are the players who shape their generation.”

Club and country

While a couple of the emerging German generation ply their trade elsewhere — Julian Brandt at Borussia Dortmund, Timo Werner soon at Chelsea and Kai Havertz at Bayer Leverkusen for now — it’s increasingly clear that Bayern want to keep hoovering up the best German talent. But will that help the national team?

A new German generation is becoming ever-stronger at Bayern Munich (picture-alliance/SvenSimon/F. Hoermann)

A new German generation is becoming ever-stronger at Bayern Munich

Recent history suggests it will. Of the 14 players who played in Germany’s World Cup final win in 2014, seven were contracted to Bayern, while Mats Hummels would join two years later and Miroslav Klose had played for the club for four years. Furthermore, the nucleus of that side had won the 2009 under-21 European Championship together. 

The story was similar in the previous World Cup, with the Spain team made up almost entirely of players from Barcelona and Real Madrid. That side also won the Euros in 2008 and 2012. 

International coaches have a limited window to work with their players, meaning that understanding, patterns of play and friendships developed with club sides have become important factors at tournaments. The French team that won in 2018 were an exception, with coach Didier Deschamps opting for a more defensive style to mask a slight lack of attacking cohesion.

With the coronavirus pandemic delaying the Euros until 2021 and elongated club seasons likely to mean fewer, or shorter, international breaks and potentially even less preparation time ahead of the tournament, shortcuts will become even handier for coaches like Joachim Löw.

Consistency in coaching styles

Though the Germany boss ruffled a few Bavarian feathers when he axed Boateng, Müller and Hummels (then at Bayern) from the national team after the sorry showing at Russia 2018, the fact that one of his former lieutenants with Die Mannschaft, Hansi Flick, is now in charge should help Löw’s cause further.

Flick’s success at Bayern may help his former boss impose a a similar style but it’s had a much more ominous effect on the rest of the Bundesliga. Bayern won the title at a canter and have the chance to complete yet another double in the German Cup final on Saturday. They’re among the favorites for the rearranged Champions League next month, too. 

Hansi Flick and Joachim Löw won the 2014 World Cup together (Getty Images)

Hansi Flick and Joachim Löw won the 2014 World Cup together

Sane won’t be able to play in the truncated tournament in Lisbon, but, assuming he’s fully recovered from the knee injury that has seen him miss all but 11 minutes of City’s Premier League campaign, he looks a smart addition to a squad that’s already streets ahead of its domestic rivals. His pace and skill are clear but the wide forward is also direct, decisive and clinical, qualities current Bayern winger Kingsley Coman often lacks. He looks an upgrade and should dovetail well with Gnabry on the flanks.

Though Bayern may have to wait for Havertz — Leverkusen are reportedly keen to dig their heels in on the price tag — his contract expiration date of 2022 make him a textbook target for a club used to getting their own way in the German market. That looks to have remained the case despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It will be difficult for the others to match us in the future because Bayern is well equipped for the future, even in this coronavirus crisis,” said former president Uli Hoeness recently. 

Others can’t compete

Even Dortmund, who signed Belgian international Thomas Meunier on a free transfer last week, don’t seem able to countenance spending big on players in the current climate. The club reported a loss of €45 million ($50.5 million) to the stock market on Monday. 

“What we are losing in income on all sides is dramatic,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said the following day, before adding that, as far as his club were concerned, “the transfer market is dead. We’re not planning any more transfers.”

While transfers don’t necessarily mean titles, it’s rarely advisable to stand still against a footballing force as strong as Bayern. The imminent addition of Sane seems likely to extend the frustration for non-Bayern Bundesliga fans. But it might just put a few smiles on some of those some faces during the Euros in July.


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