Only minutes after Jamal Musiala scored the Bundesliga-deciding goal for Bayern Munich against FC Cologne, as the record champions secured their 33rd title win by beating the hosts 2-1, reports emerged that chief executive Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic were about to be released. Vice-captain Thomas Muller could not believe that the news broke “now, one minute after the final whistle.” Bayern confirmed the news shortly thereafter: Kahn and Salihamidzic were out.
Several people at the club were aware that the days of the two players-turned-executives were numbered. Coach Thomas Tuchel had already assumed Salihamidzic’s role as the representative speaking with transfer target Declan Rice before the final game at Cologne.
Even if the decision was among football’s worst-kept secrets in recent weeks, it sent shockwaves through the game in Germany and beyond. Not for the first time did it seem as if Bayern were making rash decisions this year, having sacked coach Julian Nagelsmann in late March after only three losses in all competitions up until that point in the season.
Bayern are a club in unrest, desperately trying to fend off Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and regain their status internationally following three consecutive quarterfinal knockouts in the Champions League. Learning from the near title miss of the 2022-23 season, the Bavarians are already well underway with their plans to rebuild and come back in 2023-24 stronger than ever.
How Bayern will evolve
Jan-Christian Dreesen, Bayern’s longtime chief financial officer, has replaced Kahn as chief executive, while Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness — the two leading boardroom figures in past decades — are about to return too. Rummenigge is expected to receive a seat on the supervisory board, and Hoeness could serve in an advisory role. In any case, their presence is already being felt at the headquarters in Säbener Strasse.
Both Rummenigge and Hoeness want the club to invest heavily during the summer transfer window and revamp the squad to an extent. Given that Salihamidzic, who oversaw Bayern’s transfer business, is out, Tuchel might have a considerable say in the upcoming activities. The coach’s recent talks with West Ham United captain and England midfielder Rice might indicate that Bayern’s higher-ups trust Tuchel with the task of persuading key transfer targets to move to Bavaria.
However, Tuchel was anything but happy about the way Salihamidzic, who hired him in late March, was removed from his post. The coach intends to “align ideas” with the new decision-makers before he can prepare for the next season.
Up until recently, Pavard was not valued as a top-class right-back, but his performances as a centre-back in recent months have led to a new appreciation of the 27-year-old. However, with one year left on his contract, he is not willing to agree to an extension and is instead weighing up his options, with Inter Milan, Barcelona and others showing interest in the France international.
Fellow French player Hernandez also has a year remaining on his deal and is in negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain, who would pay the defender a substantially higher salary than Bayern.
While Bayern would like to keep both defenders, they are much more open to a transfer of Sadio Mane, who is earning roughly €20 million a year and has yet to justify that investment. During the final two matchdays of the Bundesliga season, the former Liverpool star was relegated to being a benchwarmer by Tuchel. Whether there are any interested clubs in the 31-year-old Senegal international remains to be seen, but removing him from the payroll would help Bayern free up money to invest in new players.
Sources also have told ESPN that the agents of both Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry have been asked to see Bayern’s new decision-makers to discuss the future of their respective clients. The belief is that at least one of the two German internationals should be transferred out of the club this summer to make room for incoming players.
A major transfer target will be a striker, with Juventus‘ Dusan Vlahovic and Eintracht Frankfurt‘s Randal Kolo Muani being at the top of the list. While Kolo Muani has served as a No. 9 for Frankfurt this season, he could be considered as a wing option by Tuchel, who, according to sources, would like to bring in both Vlahovic and Kolo Muani, partnering them with Muller or Kingsley Coman in a front three.
Bayern already have established contact with the faltering Italian powerhouse over a possible transfer. Hoeness possesses a strong network in Italy and could make use of that to help secure the deal.
There is a similarly indefatigable pursuit of Rice. Reports and sources differ in opinion over whether Rice would be willing to leave London with his young family. While Premier League insiders suggest that the England international would rather stay at home and join Arsenal, Bayern have been increasingly confident that they could convince Rice to join them.
The Gunners would have to come close to the demands of West Ham, who are reportedly asking for a transfer fee of €100 million or more. Bayern could be willing to go to such lengths and offer a higher salary than Arsenal.
Tuchel sees the 24-year-old as the perfect holding midfielder for a 4-1-4-1 system, thanks to Rice’s ability to cover the space behind the more creative-minded Musiala, Muller and Sane. Meanwhile, Joshua Kimmich might be moved into a different role because he is considered too attack-minded to be a true holding midfielder who cleans house behind his more advanced teammates. Kimmich, however, does not seem tempted to leave the club.
Another reinforcement of Bayern’s midfield is Konrad Laimer, who will arrive on a free transfer from RB Leipzig and might become the primary competitor to Leon Goretzka for the place behind Kimmich and Rice — or a different holding midfielder — in the internal pecking order.
What is certain is that Bayern will undergo considerable change inside the locker room, mirroring the changes at the boardroom level in recent days. Even a club who usually represent stability and consistency need to go through an overhaul every once in a while.
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