Are Bayern Munich building another juggernaut?

Mane and De Ligt are star arrivals, Gnabry stays, but Lewandowski delivered a hammer blow… Bayern Munich have undergone a seismic overhaul, so are they building another juggernaut?

  • Niklas Sule announced he was leaving Bayern Munich back in February 
  • Sadio Mane has joined the Bundesliga side, but Robert Lewandowski has gone 
  • Serge Gnabry has signed fresh terms until 2026 and Matthijs de Ligt is set to join 
  • Sportsmail looks at what has gone on so far at German champions this summer 

Bayern Munich usually conduct their transfer business in a serene, quiet manner which rarely causes the spotlight to be on them for too long. This summer has been remarkably different though.

Over the past few seasons they have largely targeted one marquee name and then added when the odd squad player departs here and there. By that measure, this summer has been nothing short of a seismic overhaul.

The announcement of Niklas Sule’s move to Borussia Dortmund as a free agent all the way back in February was far from the ideal start for the Bundesliga champions before the window had even opened. 

Bayern Munich have had a seismic overhaul of their playing staff so far this summer. Pictured are (left to right) Thomas Muller, Sadio Mane, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman

Robert Lewandowski is the most high-profile departure, with the Pole joining Barcelona

But it all began in earnest with two very public bids submitted to Liverpool at the start of the summer for Sadio Mane. A third offer created a breakthrough and a £35.1million move eventually followed.

However, any celebrations of signing a Premier League and Champions League winner were soon overshadowed by attacks on the club by one of their own forwards in Robert Lewandowski.

The Pole submitted a transfer request in May and when providing an update on his future soon after he didn’t hold back – accusing the German giants of a lack of ‘loyalty and respect’ after eight trophy-laden years of service.

He doubled down on his determination to force a move away from the Allianz Arena at the start of June, claiming his relationship with the club was broken and stated: ‘Something died inside me – and it’s impossible to get over that.’

He follows Niklas Sule (above), Marc Roca and Omar Richards as the departures so far

Sadio Mane was signed by the Bundesliga champions from Liverpool earlier in the window

The club continued to insist they were planning for the new season with the former Borussia Dortmund man, but in unusual Bayern fashion they have caved and the Pole is now a Barcelona player after sealing a £42.5m move. 

Amid all the Lewandowski uncertainty, talks over a contract extension between Bayern and another one of their star forwards, Serge Gnabry, were said to have stalled.

Gnabry was reportedly not satisfied with the terms offered to him following initial discussions with Bayern this summer.

He had no shortage of Premier League interest either, with Chelsea making tentative enquiries and the two Manchester clubs also keeping an eye on the situation.

Thankfully for the 31-time Bundesliga champions, a resolution was found and the former Arsenal star has signed fresh terms to keep him at the club until 2026.

Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt has followed in a £68m deal from the Italian giants

The club have also signed ex-Ajax stars Ryan Gravenberch (second from left) and Noussair Mazraoui (centre)

The announcement of his extension was followed by the £68m arrival of Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, who was also being lined up by Chelsea this summer.

Former Ajax stars Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui have joined too, while Marc Roca and Omar Richards have departed on permanent deals for Premier League sides Leeds United and Nottingham Forest.

With an eye on the future, Bayern this week signed the 17-year-old Rennes forward Mathys Tel. 

And all of this has come in a summer in which Bayern have been linked to Cristiano Ronaldo – a player they continue to insist they have no interest in signing – and most recently Harry Kane. 

So just what is going on at this European heavyweight who like to go under the radar by comparison to their elite-level rivals on the continent?

Well, according to some reports, they will not be in that top-level group for too much longer with plans instead to become ‘a selling club’.

Kicker claimed in February Bayern no longer plan to compete for world football’s top talents but will concentrate on signing players aged between 20 and 22, develop them and sell at a large profit a few years later.

Serge Gnabry has signed fresh terms to keep him at the Bundesliga club until 2026

Bayern continue to insist they will not try to strike a deal with Man United for Cristiano Ronaldo

It has come because the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is said to have left them unable to afford the salaries of top players.

Results last season too did not reflect a side that looked on the verge of stamping their authority on the continent either.

Whatever views fans and pundits have on the competitiveness of the Bundesliga – which they have now won 10 times on the trot – Bayern’s progress and success will ultimately always be judged by their performances in the Champions League.

And with a quarter-final defeat by Spanish side Villarreal last season, they certainly fell some way short of their usual high expectations in terms of competing to win the trophy itself.

Part of their failures last season have to do with the current playing staff. Bayern beat a host of clubs to the signing of Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig.

But after a bright start to life in Bavaria, the Frenchman suffered a dip in performances and made plenty of errors off the ball, largely through positioning.

Bayern suffered a humiliating quarter-final Champions League exit by Villarreal last season

Countryman Benjamin Pavard went through his ups and downs last season too and has been coy on his Bayern future for some time now amid interest from Atletico Madrid and Juventus. 

Leroy Sane has not quite looked the same player that he was at Manchester City after returning to Germany in 2020, though a torn ACL has more than contributed to that.

Admittedly, de Ligt could replace Upamecano in the XI and there does appear to be confidence the Frenchman can come good with Bayern not looking to sell him this summer. And Sane’s exploits in the Premier League mean few would write him off yet.

However in short, for one reason or another, some of their marquee signings over the last few summers hasn’t exactly gone to plan. 

And some may interpret this summer’s business – two years after they won the Champions League – as a bit of panic setting in due to recent transfer business not quite working out as they had hoped.

Dayot Upamecano started life at Bayern well but his performances dipped towards the end

Leroy Sane (right) has also struggled but Kingsley Coman (centre) was a bright spark last term

Even the ever-reliable Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka looked at odds when teams pressed Bayern or were compact in midfield last season, with the team as a whole struggling to regroup when the opposition played like that.

It is perhaps why their supposed new policy of targeting 20 to 22-year-olds holds some validity, with Gravenberch falling into that category. 

The other side of the coin of course is that Bayern are building their latest juggernaut that will in time aim to take on the best in Europe again, much like they did with their summer business in 2007 and 2012.

Gravenberch and Mazraoui have emerged as some of the best talent under the age of 25 in recent seasons, adding to the plethora of young brilliance headed by Jamal Musiala in Julian Nagelsmann’s squad.

Injuries again were Kingsley Coman’s Achilles heel last season but when he did play he demonstrated the extraordinary ability he possesses.

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn also spoke glowingly of Harry Kane this week ahead of potential move next summer

Bayern could now have an alternative when he is injured too, with Nagelsmann reportedly trying a 3-5-2 formation in pre-season training, with Mane and Gnabry set to play together up front. 

It could be viewed as an upheaval given over the last decade Jupp Heynckes and Hansi Flick have used a 4-2-3-1 formation, but last season was perhaps enough to convince Nagelsmann to experiment with something new.

Add Tottenham and England striker Kane – who Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn spoke glowingly about this week – and that suggests they are still intent on claiming major silverware.

A move may not be in the offing until next summer though, when Kane will have just 12 months left on his Spurs contract.

The immediate focus for Bayern therefore will be on their first pre-season game of the season against Wayne Rooney’s DC United on Thursday. The journey to see how close that juggernaut is to bulldozing its way through the best sides will then begin.

Julian Nagelsmann (centre) has reportedly been experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation

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