Bayern Munich’s transfer deadline day dealings have caused much discussion amongst fans and observers alike with varied opinions as to the wisdom of signing Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting on a free and bringing in Bouna Sarr when target Sergino Dest opted to sign for Barcelona. However, it the re-signing of Brazilian winger Douglas Costa that has caused the most debate.
Costa left the Bavarians in 2017 just two years into his five-year contract with then-president Uli Hoeness lambasting him as a “mercenary” and slamming the player’s character.
The winger joined initially joined Bayern from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer of 2015 for €30 million and enjoyed a fairly successful debut season at the Allianz Arena scoring four and providing 14 assists in 27 Bundesliga appearances under Pep Guardiola. However, in the following season he struggled for game time under Carlo Ancelotti and made only 14 starts.
With the Brazilian behind Frank Ribéry, Arjen Robben and Kingsley Coman in the pecking order he joined Juventus on an initial loan which the Turin club later turned into a permanent deal. His departure from Bavaria was accompanied by a public blast from Uli Hoeness, who was far from impressed with the attitude and character of the player.
“It’s the club’s job to sign players of strong character,” Hoeness told Sky Deutschland. “There are players who, two days after signing a contract, start to think where they can earn more money elsewhere.
“We had a similar case with Costa — he acted exactly the same way as Dembele [Ousmane of Borussia Dortmund]. He wanted more money after only a short time, although his performances weren’t that good. We therefore let him leave according to the terms of Bayern.”
In rather more blunt language Hoeness told the Frankenpost: “Costa didn’t work out because he was quite a mercenary whose character we didn’t like.”
Three years later the club have moved on the final day of the summer transfer window to bring the 30-year-old back on loan. Many people are left wondering why Bayern would re-sign a “mercenary” and the question arises as to whether the move will pay-off.
Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic is under no doubt that re-signing Costa makes perfect sense. “Douglas will strengthen us on the wings, which is important for our game. With Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman, Jamal Musiala and Douglas we now have top players in those areas. This gives the coach the opportunity to rotate the squad sensibly. Douglas knows FC Bayern and will settle in again very quickly.”
Bayern have signed the player without a loan fee but will have to shoulder the full responsibility for his reported €10 million per year wage. With the current Covid 19 crisis, it could be said that Costa is a financially more prudent option that signing Callum Hudson Odoi from Chelsea which could have cost €70 million plus in the longer term.
Bayern’s congested fixture schedule also means that trainer Hansi Flick is in all likelihood going to have to rotate his squad much more than was his preference last season meaning a reliable winger like Costa, who will need little time to adapt to the club could prove important to the quest of defending their treble.
Uli Hoeness probably won’t like it, but then sometimes you have to dance with the devil to advance your own ambitions.