The season is not finished yet, but the squad planning at Bayern Munich is already underway with a big money striker the priority. The Rekordmeister have however also gone on record stating they are looking for a ‘defensively strong and ball playing defensive midfielder to support Joshua Kimmich in the middle of the pitch’.
The fact that Kimmich has a natural inclination to go forward rather than hold back as a predominantly defensive midfielder means a more defensive minded ‘Doppelsechs’ is beneficial to the current Bayern system. Thomas Tuchel already has Leon Goretzka for this role, but the 28-year-old has come in for some criticism around his performance and development meaning Bayern are looking to strengthen that area of the pitch.
Konrad Laimer is already signed ahead of next season, but he wasn’t a Tuchel choice and his future role is unclear. Ryan Gravenberch has not been given the opportunities to impress this season, although at Ajax he did play as a more advanced midfielder, not as a screen for the back line.
So with Bayern in the market for an upgrade in the number six position, who could they realistically be targeting?
Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea)
Tuchel could go back to his former club Chelsea for a player he holds in great estimation- Croatian Mateo Kovacic. The Bayern boss valued the midfielder extremely highly whilst at Stamford Bridge once commenting, “I’m very happy that he’s my player and that he’s playing a lot this season. On and off the pitch he is crucial for us.”
Persuading him to move and Chelsea to let him go shouldn’t be an issue. He only has one year left on his current deal in London and the Blues are not exactly short of cover in midfield or short of cash to fund a replacement.
Casemiro (Manchester United)
A Casemiro-type player has been cited as the ideal for Bayern, so why not go for the real thing? The Brazilian seems an unlikely candidate considering that United only paid €70 million for him this season and wouldn’t be in a hurry to part ways.
He has however gone off the boil somewhat as the season has progressed and his satisfaction levels in Manchester are being questioned in some corners.
Pierre-Emil Hojberg (Tottenham Hotspur)
Could Bayern go back to one of their old boys to fill the role they have in mind? Danish midfielder Hojberg had four years at the Allianz Arena between 2012 and 2016 before departing for England. At 27, he’s at the peak of his development and has shown at both Southampton and Tottenham that he is an influential number six.
Much will depend on the identity of the new Spurs coach and the plans he has for his midfield, but a Hojberg return to Bavaria will surely be considered by Bayern.
Manu Koné (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
If Bayern are looking closer to home and scouring the Bundesliga market, then they will struggle to look beyond Gladbach’s Manu Koné. He’s developed this season into a really impressive defensive midfielder whose all-round game has gone to the next level.
He is ambitious and has already stated his desire to take the next step in his career. That doesn’t have to overseas and a move to Bayern could be a win/ win for both parties.
Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina)
The Moroccan midfielder came to prominence during the World Cup when he was a driving force in the North African’s march to the semi-finals. He has settle back to life in Florence since the World Cup and hasn’t exactly been grabbing the headlines, but he has the quality- the question is whether that quality would be the upgrade Bayern require.
Manuel Ugarte (Sporting)
22-year-old Uruguayan Ugarte is going to be snapped up by a big European club in the not-too-distant future as his star rises and the scouts continue to be impressed with his performances in Portugal.
He very good on the ball, he’s incredibly energetic, he reads the game brilliantly and has been favourably compared to Real Madrid’s Aurelian Tchouameni. With a 60 million release clause, he wouldn’t come cheap, and while untested at the top level, many experts believe he is destined for the top. A host of Premier League clubs are said to be interested, but could/ should Bayern steal a march on them?