It is a transfer saga of epic proportions with more twists and turns than a Bavarian countryside road. Leroy Sané is the player Bayern Munich’s front office has identified to fix the club’s ailments, to replace Frank Ribéry and Arjen Robben, and launch their new era without the dynamic duo.
Transfers, however, are never easy, and the first step was to convince the player. For months, Bayern’s national team players worked on Sané, tried to convince him to move from Manchester City and away from Pep Guardiola and the English Premier League to Bayern, Germany’s biggest club.
By all accounts, Sané was never fully convinced by a move. But the offer on the table—€18 million to €20 million a season—was simply too much to refuse. Hence, the player gave Bayern the okay to start negotiating with City; that was always the first and most crucial step. Rule number one of the transfer handbook states: come to terms with the player.
Hence, with a deal seemingly in place, the Bayern front-office seemed joyful during last Saturday’s DFL Supercup. One former Bayern player even stated that a deal was done. Without the ink dry on a signed contract, that was perhaps a bit premature but, given the smiles, it seemed to be only a matter of time for a deal to happen.
Bayern, after all, were under the impression that once Sané agreed their former coach Guardiola was willing to deal. But on Sunday Pep played Sané in the FA Community Shield and there Sané tore his ACL.
“Leroy Sané is a Manchester City player,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said on Thursday. “It is sad, and I am sorry for his injury,” he added.
It is a tragedy in itself. One of Germany’s most promising players in many generations will be robbed of an entire season of football, perhaps a major tournament in next year’s Euros. ACL repairs tend to make the joint stronger in the medium-term but short-term there is a long period of recovery.
For the Bayern camp, it means a massive change of plan. Contingencies are needed and a decision whether to go all out and sign Sané anyhow—the entire package would be around €200 million—needs to be made.
“I hope you understand that we will not comment on that,” Salihamidžić said. He may not have commented but the obvious look of disappointment to an obvious story.
On Thursday, there were rumours that the club could be looking at Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech and PSV’s Steven Bergwijn. Both are fabulous players, Ziyech, in particular, dazzled at the Allianz Arena when Ajax came to visit during the group stage of last season’s Champions League.
Another option on Thursday was a potential loan move for Ivan Perišić. Bayern head coach Niko Kovac knows Perišić well, and his name suggests that Bayern might consider a short-term solution while they reassess Sané’s situation.
The 30-year-old Croatian, after all, would by no means fill the gap left by Ribéry and Robben in the long-term, and Bayern always think for the long-term. Truth to be told, Bergwijn and Ziyech would also not give Bayern that generational player either.
Both are fabulous players but Bergwijn’s role, in particular, will be filled by Timo Werner next summer. Ziyech, in the meantime, lacks the speed and directness that Sané brings to the table. The Ajax star is without a doubt an option in Munich, and the club even considered signing him even if Sané would have arrived as a healthy player at Bayern.
Either way, the club needs to make additions. Leaders in the squad have pointed out this weekend that the squad lacks depth. “We need to sign three to four players,” Lewandowski said to the ICC on Saturday.
Sané’s future might be in doubt, and that is a tragedy, but for Bayern, the wheels have to be set in motion. This window might be the most decisive in decades, and it will be interesting to see how the Bavarians will react to the shocking report from Manchester and whether there will be another twist in this transfer saga.