Bayern have their centre back signing to replace Lucas Hernandez and are still very much in the race to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham for big money, but Thomas Tuchel is seemingly still looking for an additional midfielder to solve what he sees as a problem in the number six role. Will the Rekordmeister go shopping for Tuchel, or the coach have to stick with his current options?
Despite Uli Hoeneß claiming that Bayern do not need a new defensive midfielder as they are already well stocked in that department, Thomas Tuchel has once again made the case for a new addition while speaking on the Bavarians tour of Asia. The trainer believes that Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Konrad Laimer and Ryan Gravenberch are all too offensively minded to be the perfect fit for Bayern in the number six position.
“We don’t teach. We try to develop the players so that they can fully exploit their potential” Tuchel explained. “All four midfielders are very agile, they love, from my point of view, to play between the penalty areas. But what we don’t have is a defensive midfielder who holds the position, thinking defensively, paying more attention to protection and what’s happening in the back third of the pitch.
“The four players all have many qualities. In their offensive way of thinking they are similar. Ryan is a very good dribbler, Leon is a very physical player, Konny is more of a ball hunter and Joshua is the strategic type who would like to do everything and could also do everything in principle. He brings a lot quality in the team but he still doesn’t have the DNA of a defensive six. He likes to roam freely, he tries to help everywhere and likes to be involved. He’s a good assist, plays a lot penultimate passes – that’s what sets him apart.
“Can we win football games without this type of player? Yes, of course. It’s our job to find solutions. I’m in very good contact with Uli, of course, he’s also on our transfer committee. We are a long way from a six-point issue at the moment – and it’s not necessary for us to always agree. It’s important that he knows my point of view.
“Are we looking for a six? We’re not desperate. Because we also trust our players who still have contracts – in their qualities, in their character. But if there is a possibility, then we are open to it. There are only a few players who, in my opinion, can make us better. Sometimes these players are not available; sometimes things happen that we don’t know ; or things won’t happen for the next few weeks. Let’s see, we’re relaxed.”
It is no secret that Tuchel was very keen on signing Declan Rice from West Ham, but it very soon became apparent that the England international was going to be staying in the Premier League and Arsenal ultimately paid the €100 million transfer fee.
Other potential targets have also already been snapped up with Paris St Germain signing Manuel Ugarte from Sporting, while Mateo Kovacic has joined Manchester City from Chelsea. So who could Bayern realistically consider?
Another raid on Tottenham could be an option with a move for former player Pierre-Emil Hojberg. The Dane 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. How happy Daniel Levy would be to have to do business with Bayern again remains to be seen.
If Bayern are looking closer to home and scouring the Bundesliga market, then they will struggle to look beyond Gladbach’s Manu Koné. He developed last season into a really impressive defensive midfielder whose all-round game has gone to the next level. Then there is Moroccan midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, who came to prominence during the World Cup when he was a driving force in the North African’s march to the semi-finals. There is a question mark whether he is the quality upgrade Bayern require.
If Bayern are looking for an in-house solution, then could central defender Dayot Upamecano be the answer? The Frenchman has many of the attributes required for in a midfielder: pace, physique, strength in the air, strength in tackles and a progressive passing game. The arrival of Kim Min-jae will surely impact his game time as part of a central defensive duo alongside Mathijs de Ligt.
Mexican Edson Álvarez from Ajax had been touted as a potential replacement for Jude Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund before the Schwarzgelben signed Felix Nmecha. The arrival of Jude Bellingham at Real Madrid might also make life difficult for French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni– a fact that might alert FC Bayern. The question is whether Bayern stick or twist in regards the key number six position. Hoeneß says ‘stick’, Tuchel says ‘twist’- who will win this hand?