Golden era to brand new dawn: Bayern Munich set for major overhaul

The 2019 title has heralded the emergence of a new generation under head coach Niko Kovac.

According to club president Uli Hoeness, Bayern Munich has embarked upon “the biggest investment programme in our history.”   -  Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s seventh successive Bundesliga title win on Saturday marked both the end of a golden era and the dawning of a new age.

The 2019 title crowned what has been a glistening decade of success for Bayern, as iconic players such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben picked up yet another gong in their final season at the club. Yet it also heralded the emergence of a new generation under coach Niko Kovac, with the likes of Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry establishing themselves as first team regulars.

As they look ahead to next season, Bayern is not only on the verge of a generational shift, but also of what club president Uli Hoeness has called “the biggest investment programme in our history.”

Bayern has already completed the signings of World Cup winning French defenders Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez for EUR 35 million (USD 39.3m) and a club record EUR 80 million (USD 89.9m) respectively.

Read | Dortmund excites but still no match for transitioning Bayern

RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, Ajax defender Matthijs De Ligt and Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel have all also been linked to the club in recent months. Though Hoeness said on Saturday that Bayern would not break any more transfer records, the club is expected to make several more signings, with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge setting his sights on a new winger.

“Because we are losing Robben and Ribery, we need another good alternative alongside (18-year-old Canadian) Alphonso Davies,” Rummenigge told Bild newspaper last month.

That alternative could be Chelsea talent Callum Hudson-Odoi, for whom Bayern made an unsuccessful bid last January.

The first choice successors to Ribery and Robben, however, will be 22-year-old Kingsley Coman and 23-year-old Serge Gnabry, whom Hoeness has described as “the biggest surprise of the season.”

Kovac divides opinion

Other stars of Bayern’s golden decade have also seen young players emerging behind them this season. Niklas Suele, 23, has muscled past Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng to become first choice centre-back, while Thomas Mueller has faced competition from newcomer Leon Goretzka.

In a recent interview with Munich newspaper TZ, president Hoeness said the young players’ success was proof that Bayern had begun its overhaul at just the right time. “We have gone through a transition at the highest level. We already have five or six young guys in the team and we will add a few more,” he said.

Related | Bayern Munich bids farewell to Robben and Ribery

How much the successful transition is down to coach Niko Kovac, however, remains a bitterly divisive question at Bayern. Despite winning a gruelling title race in his first season at the club, it remains to be seen whether the Croatian will be the man who leads Bayern into the new era.

Niko Kovac was “convinced” that he would see out the remaining two years of his contract with Bayern Munich. Photo: Getty Images

 

Hoeness has repeatedly backed Kovac, while CEO Rummenigge has remained sceptical, telling Sky TV that “nobody has a job guarantee at Bayern.”

The coach has been unable to shake off reports that senior players are disgruntled with his leadership. He was defiant on Saturday, saying he was “convinced” that he would see out the remaining two years of his contract. “I talk to my bosses, and you get a feeling for the direction things are going in. I think I have interpreted them correctly,” he said on Saturday.

Whether Kovac stays or not, the winds of change are blowing through Munich, with departures also looming at boardroom level.

Rummenigge is set to be succeeded by former Bayern captain Oliver Kahn in 2021, while Hoeness recently told the club magazine that the day when he gives up the presidency is “not far off.”

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