FC Bayern München’s transfer window is most probably done after a string of August acquisitions. While no superstars came to Munich, the club has done enough to make people’s estival panic attacks look ridiculous.
Let’s begin on a positive note, with a few thoughts on the late arrivals.
Ivan Perišić for depth
Ivan Perišić popped out of nowhere as a loan deal with an option to buy from Inter Milan. The usual suspects immediately got going. How did we go from Leroy Sané to this 30-year-old? Media speculated that Bayern only had Sané in sight before he got injured.
Both crowds were as clear-sighted as Mr. Magoo without his glasses.
The purpose of the Perišić signing is adding depth on the wings. With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry gone, and without the sidelined Sané, the Bavarians needed at least one more option for the flanks. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry will be the designated starters. Perišić brings experience and technical ability. He can come on at any time as a part of a healthy rotation.
Philippe Coutinho for creativity
Brazilian import Philippe Coutinho, also coming on a loan, is the bigger transfer. A creative passer, dribbler and shooter, he can play anywhere in the attacking midfield and can fit into a 4-3-3 formation.
FC Barcelona may have overpaid when they poached him from Liverpool, weighing on his profile even though he delivered the goods in some crucial matches. That FC Bayern got a “reject” is not a problem. If he shines in Munich, he won’t be the first or the last underused asset to show his class in the Bavarian capital.
Mickaël Cuisance for defence
Central midfielder Mickaël Cuisance’s transfer from Borussia Mönchengladbach, and the five-year contract, make for a more surprising signing. However, his arrival is as necessary as the others because only Javi Martínez can play well in defensive midfield.
I expect Cuisance to put his constant footwork and one-on-one strength to good use. At only €12 million, any decent replication of his skills in a red shirt will make him an absolute steal.
Gladbach’s trainer complained about an attitude problem, with Cuisance seeing himself as too big a fish for their bowl. Not a problem here. Munich is a big aquarium with such species swimming all over the place.
Why they didn’t sign Sané
Leroy Sané’s ligament injury at Manchester City was terrible news. Many wondered why FC Bayern put €80 million on the table for an injured Lucas Hernández but stepped away from Sané.
There is a point to make about timing.
The Hernandez transfer was announced on March 27. The central defender had surgery a few hours later. He had months to do rehabilitation and participate in the pre-season training camp. Sané got hurt in August. Even with successful rehab, he will be available well into the season, in the thick of domestic competitions and the Champions League. It may take several more weeks before he makes a significant contribution on the pitch.
The Hernández and Sané situations are not comparable. FCB should plan on scooping up the star winger later.
With that in mind, the team purchased or loaned as many players as it lost so far in the summer transfer window, for just under €144 million according to TransferMarkt. Everyone who speculated that a very short squad would be unchanged in September looks as good as the drunk man who can’t figure out how to flush a toilet after a few beers on the train, with five people banging on the door because they can’t wait anymore.
Forget the manner
Media and fans moaned loudly when Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić announced the Coutinho and Cuisance deals in the making, right after the draw against Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga’s opening match. It’s apparently unprofessional to do business late in the summer window and let people know about your plans late in the evening.
Some came up with “interesting” theories:
Countinho and Cuisance? A genius PR pivot from Bayern after dropping points on MD1 for the first time since 2011. #FCBBSC
— James Thorogood 🎙️⚽️ (@JMThorogood) August 16, 2019
What’s the right way to announce a deal? On a Sunday at 15:00, in June, while sipping Darjeeling tea on the patio and sending out a press release printed on parchment by carrier pigeon?
You announce a signing when you have a good reason to make it public. Multiple media outlets had accurately reported Coutinho’s upcoming deal. When reporters put their finger on a transfer, Bayern have a habit of confirming the information shortly. They added the info on Cuisance to the mix.
Nothing new here. Confirmation of a deal came at an awkward time for Mario Götze in 2013, hours before Champions League semi-final ties that involved both FCB and Borussia Dortmund. BILD broke the story, and it had to be confirmed. Not happy? Suck on a lemon.
Also, it’s apparently unprofessional to make late catches on the market. According to that logic, transfers should all be done early in the transfer window.
I kindly remind you that Arjen Robben came to Munich on August 28, 2009. Javi Martínez came on August 29, 2012. Were they bad business? Feel free to say “no” in the comments.
While doing business early is nice, it’s not an obligation.
A word about the media
There is a significant reason to explain why the Straight Red site and Twitter account go quiet during the summer. Too much noise, not enough information.
The media are guilty of publishing too many rumours and clickbait articles. Many football fans are too nervous and gullible to resist: they read it all and panic.
Do yourself a favour and think about the media’s motives. Having been a reporter myself in the past, I know exactly how they work and why readers should remain critical at all times.
Media outlets are for-profit organisations. They pretend to solely serve the public interest, but the owners want to make money. Bosses want a large audience that the marketing department monetises with subscriptions and/or advertising. They have to sell.
What do journalists rely on to break the news? Since official press releases and conferences don’t allow them to gain an edge on the competition, they get in touch with alternative sources to find out what’s happening under the surface.
What’s a good source? An insider who has a business interest to serve or a bone to pick. My best scoops came from people who had a reason to reveal information that would embarrass others. They were happy to feed me, and I was delighted to break the news.
In football, those insiders are often players, club executives and agents. Among the three, the agent gains from transfer activity. He will happily spread rumours to make clubs bid more for a player.
Why do we see inaccurate information on transfers in the public space? Deprived of first-hand access to information, reporters have to trust their sources. Someone who’s been reliable for years may betray you at any time. You can do the most honest job and get burned in this profession. That’s why I advise remaining critical, even with the most credible reporters. They all misfire in the rat race for the juiciest news.
Enough about the circus. The season has started and the team is more complete than before.
In June, I wrote that the club’s board had to give coach Niko Kovač the players he wanted to shape the squad to his liking. Only then could we truly evaluate his performance in the dugout. Thankfully, it happened.
Today, Kovač has enough options to play either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, depending on tactical preference and the opposition. The squad is competitive. He may not have Sané at his disposal, but he got many of his picks. It’s time for him to deliver and face judgement.