The name of Bayern Munich’s sporting director has been thrown around a lot lately. Together with Oliver Kahn, they cracked the whip when they sacked coach Julian Nagelsmann shortly before a crucial phase of the season. A gamble that didn’t pay off when his successor Thomas Tuchel crashed out of the DFB-Pokal, losing to Manchester City in the Champions League after the first round. The lifespan of coaches has been cut in half under Hasan Salihamidzic’s tenure in charge at the Munich big club. But are they getting such stellar pieces to the jigsaw, as one would expect at Bayern? Let’s subject Brazza’s signings to criticism.
The former Bayern Munich and Bosnian national team mainstay returned to Säbener Straße in 2017. As sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic was able to draw on the experience of Karl-Heinz Rummenigger and Uli Hoeneß from the start. With the gradual departure of this pair of officials, his responsibilities grew.
The fact reflects the introduction to the Board of Directors in 2020 and the subsequent promotion of his associate Marc Neppe as Head of Scouting to the role of Technical Director. How has he handled this responsibility so far?
Salihamizic’s immediate reaction to Leroy Sané’s injury shortly before his announced transfer back to Germany deserves a pat on the back. When the Manchester City winger, popularly speaking, tore his cruciate ligament, delaying his move by a year, Brazzo reacted swiftly.
Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho and Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic headed to Munich on loan. Strengthened also by the pair of Lucas Hernández and Benjamin Pavard, Bayern also won the treble in the coming season thanks to the good work of their sporting director.
The fact that the Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry duo parted ways with the club at the same time didn’t stop them from doing so. Sané finally filled the hole left by them on the wings after all. However, it was not without a fight. The stubborn Hans Flick was more likely to want to add Tim Werner to his winning team.
Salihamidzic, however, was not convinced of the Leipzig striker’s suitability for theRekordmeister‘s style of play. In the end, the club’s sporting director emerged victorious from the vividly publicised conflict and Sané became a Bayern Munich player. In retrospect, a more suitable option was preferred.
Perhaps the first ever player Brazzo found, approached and signed on his own behalf was Alphonso Davies. Mocked for scouting the Canadian winger via YouTube cuts, as the story written based on one light-hearted remark goes, it is Salihamidzic who has the last laugh.
Davies has quickly become one of the best offensive edge defenders in Europe, and his price has skyrocketed.
The acquisition of Eric Maxime Choupo-Motinga also looks prescient. His contribution is reflected in his recently extended contract. The summer signing of Matthijs de Ligt is also getting its price tag. The connection with Bayern is a win-win situation:: a top young player has arrived at the Allianz Arena and could restart his stalled career at Juventus.
A sporting director’s job is not only about bringing in players, but also about selling them. Bayern has never been known for those. It proudly proclaims that it is not a club that sells off its players.
However, the inability to monetise unused wide kickers or retiring stars has been glaring. This perennial reality was shattered last summer when Brazzo managed to collect over €100m for the 34-year-old Lewandowski and a group of players who were just watching the action on the pitch.
Who can forget Brazzo’s optimistic public outbursts regarding the signing of Callum Hudson-Odoi, which Chelsea rewarded by pumping up the price of their winger beyond Bayern’s reach? The budding sporting director has come a long way since then. He has worked on himself, adapted his demeanour and grown into a respected figure.
But it hasn’t been without missteps. Not every hosting gig he secured was a success. Douglas Costa’s temporary return is proof of that. Similarly, not every young talent has been able to make it in Munich. Michael Cuisance, for example, has been a stumbling block.
The big blemish on the official CV may be last summer. Regarded as one of the most successful ever, the Bavarians’ summer signings have largely floundered so far. Noussair Mazraoui may have missed the start of the spring transfer window through health problems, but he didn’t have a secure job before that either. At the same time, his name has been linked to fears of not living up to expectations.
Young talented midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, on the other hand, fell into Julian Nagelsmann’s disfavor for his alleged reluctance to return to the defense.
The biggest blunder of all is the arrival of Sadio Mané. Moreover, the headlines about the Senegalese striker’s insufficient contribution have recently been supplemented by others pointing to problems off the pitch. He overcame an initially disputed altercation he was supposed to have with Julian Nagelsmann after the PSG game by challenging Leroy Sané.
At the same time, Mané is not the only striker on Bayern’s bench whose performances do not match the contribution of the club’s highest paid player. Serge Gnabry also signed a very lucrative contract in the summer. The decision to rely on this duo with Lewandowski’s departure is proving to be a costly mistake.
Salihamidzic’s contracts are more complicated. The one with David Alaba failed to extend, and as the whole negotiations dragged on, the Austrian defender left Bayern completely without compensation.
The trend of bringing in big names that started in the summer continued in January. As soon as the opportunity to bring in João Cancelo presented itself, Brazzo didn’t hesitate. He didn’t mind that Nagelsmann didn’t need a central defender in his system.
The arrival of Thomas Tuchel and the switch back to a four-defender system, coupled with Davies’ fluctuating form, may turn the Portuguese’s loan spell into a success. However, the jury is still out.
We can also include those of Bouna Sarr and Tiago Dantas among the previously failed arrivals. However, the young Portuguese midfielder, who spent a year as a guest in Munich without getting a serious look at the first team, was Hans Flick’s wish. Likewise, the right-back, who still weighs down the Bavarians’ wage budget, was supposed to be the coach’s man.
These experiences may also have motivated the club’s recent transfer policy, which is less reflective of the coach’s interests. Will this be a trend? Brazzo can confirm that for us in the summer. If he gets the opportunity to do so after the failed coaching escapades and blunders of recent months.
Sources: Transfermarkt, FC Bayern Munich
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