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Bayern to-do list: "Winter transfer market even more complicated"

Bayern are back on the pitch. After several winter camps in Qatar, they stay at home for the time being. The personnel bottleneck in the defense is immediately apparent again. When will there be solutions?

Must wait for his New Year's wishes to be fulfilled: Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel.
Must wait for his New Year's wishes to be fulfilled: Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel.

Bundesliga - Bayern to-do list: "Winter transfer market even more complicated"

Thomas Tuchel welcomed his players warmly wrapped up in hats and winter jackets. In front of a large crowd of fans, the FC Bayern coach started the German champions' preparations for the second half of the season right on time in the afternoon in windy Munich.

However, he still has to wait for his New Year's wishes to come true. FC Bayern 's start to an unusual preparation with the planned attack in the Champions League and the hunt for the top team Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga should still take place without the firmly planned defensive reinforcement for the coach.

In Munich, they know from experience that winter shopping is complicated, costly and carries risks. "The winter transfer market is a bit more complicated than the summer one," said even Tuchel before the kick-off at the club's ground on Tuesday afternoon. The 50-year-old has had to improvise far too often in recent months, particularly in defense and defensive midfield. "We've been hit again and again in those positions," he complained. "We know that we have a need. We were pretty much on our last legs in terms of personnel," said sporting director Christoph Freund.

Defensive bottleneck immediately acute again

The defensive bottleneck became apparent again right at the start of the year. Central defender Minjae Kim, who was named South Korea's footballer of the year on Tuesday, will be playing for his home country at the Asian Cup in Qatar until February 10 at the latest. Kim will miss up to six league games, including possibly the top match in Leverkusen. And on February 14, the first leg of the round of 16 in the Champions League at Lazio Rome is scheduled. In addition, full-back Noussair Mazraoui has been called up by the Moroccan national team coach for the Africa Cup (January 13 to February 11) despite his injury.

Buy or loan? Specialists or all-rounders? These are the questions to which answers must be found. "Is it a specialist or can one player fill several positions? Then one can be enough," explained Tuchel. He believes it is imperative to strengthen the squad - but with quality players, please. But which club in Europe lets top players leave in January? "It's very difficult to get players in the middle of the season who we are one hundred percent convinced of," admitted Tuchel himself.

Sommer, Cancelo, Blind and the lessons of 2023

Looking back: Twelve months ago, Bayern also took action in the winter. Swiss international goalkeeper Yann Sommer was released by Gladbach for eight million euros to replace captain Manuel Neuer, who was out of action after breaking his leg. Full-back João Cancelo arrived on loan from Manchester City. In addition, the club-less veteran defender Daley Blind was signed for free. All three have long since left.

"Winter is not that easy," Freund noted. Arnau Martínez (20/FC Girona) and Clément Lenglet (28), who is on loan to Aston Villa from FC Barcelona, are being touted as candidates. Ronald Araújo (24) was the preferred candidate. However, the Uruguayan is still tied to FC Barcelona on a long-term contract and is no longer considered a hot prospect. Tuchel's desire for a primarily defensive-minded midfield midfielder has slipped down the list of priorities to a defensive solution for the time being.

What will become of Sané, Kimmich and Davies?

In addition to the squad upgrade in the winter, CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen, Freund and Tuchel will also have to shape the Bayern team of the future. Captain Neuer, Thomas Müller and backup goalkeeper Sven Ulreich have already been extended until 2025. The contracts of regulars Joshua Kimmich (28), Alphonso Davies (23), who will be back on Wednesday as agreed, and Leroy Sané (27), who can look back on the best six months of his time at Bayern in terms of performance, will then end. In the coming months, the trio will have to make decisions about their future.

The fact that Sané harmonizes perfectly with top transfer Harry Kane in attack plays into the international's hands in the contract poker. Sané also wants to provide goals and assists in 2024. "I also want to be on hand when the decisive phase in the Champions League and the league starts in the spring at the latest," he said.

In Tuchel, Sané has found a coach who encourages and challenges him. "Leroy has my utmost appreciation for what he has achieved in the first half of the season. He has set the bar very high," said Tuchel after the last win in Wolfsburg in 2023.

Unusual winter preparation

Twelve days of Christmas vacation followed. In contrast to previous years, when they regularly went to training camps in Qatar at the beginning of January, this time Munich are preparing for the second half of the season at home. On January 12, they continue their Bundesliga campaign against TSG Hoffenheim. Before that, there is a test match at FC Basel on Saturday. Only after the Hoffenheim game will the team head to the Algarve in Portugal for a few days, where Tuchel wants to weld his star ensemble even closer together - preferably with one or two new additions.

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