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REGRESSION

Are Bayern Munich a club in decline?

The German giants are facing some serious challenges in the coming years with changes anticipated

It seems futile to suggest a club that won their fifth league title on the bounce in May might be struggling.

But that’s testament to the ludicrously high levels expected at Bayern Munich every season.


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Carlo Ancelotti's Bayern Munich enjoyed their day at the Paulaner event

AP:Associated Press
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Bayern have enjoyed dominance for years in Germany

Rumblings from within the German giants suggest disharmony is rife under Carlo Ancelotti, with the wily Italian failing to galvanise the squad in the same way predecessor Pep Guardiola did.

Over the next 12 months Bayern and their hierarchy will face a number of difficult decisions in both matters on and off the field.

So is there a suggestion that a club, seemingly untouchable for years, could be in decline?

AGEING PLAYERS

Robben is now 33

Reuters
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Robben is now 33

The combination of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery has devastated Bundesliga defences for the best part of a decade now.

Robbem in particular appears to have aged like a fine wine, shaking off his dreadful injury record in his early career to become one of the most consistent attacking players in Europe.

But all good things must come to an end and with both wing wizards now reaching their twilight years, Bayern are faced with the unenviable task of replacing them.

Franck Ribery was unimpressed at being subbed-off against Anderlecht

AFP
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Ribery was unimpressed at being subbed-off against Anderlecht last week

When Philipp Lahm retired at the end of last season they already had a ready-made replacement in Joshua Kimmich, but finding successors to Ribery and Robben will prove far more challenging.

FINANCIAL WOES

Neymar was unable to score his fifth Ligue 1 goal for the home side

Reuters
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PSG forked out nearly £200m to sign Neymar

Bayern might be one of the biggest clubs in the world but this summer would have been a wake up call.

PSG, when Kylian Mbappe’s loan deal is made permanent next summer, will have forked out well north of £350m on just two players while Barcelona spent a further €105m + add ons on Ousmane Dembele.

In the Premier League Manchester City surpassed £200m with their new recruits while Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all shattered their previous club record signings.

Man City spent over £100m on two full backs

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Man City spent over £100m on two full backs

The 50+1 rule enforced in Germany, designed to negate too much influence by external investors, is certainly refreshing but may ultimately see Bayern cut adrift from Europe’s top table.

The Bavarians missed out on Alexis Sanchez this summer after being priced out of a deal, which might become a worryingly common theme in the coming years.

LEWANDOWSKI WANTS OUT

Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring against Werder Bremen

AFP
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Lewandowski wants a Real Madrid move

Bayern still boast arguably the best striker in the world at the moment (the Luis Suarez fanboys may have an issue with that) in Robert Lewandowski who continues to break Bundesliga records with each passing season.

But how long will Lewandowski hang around?

The prolific Pole has indicated a number of times Real Madrid remain his dream club and, with the futures of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu uncertain, Los Blancos are tipped to pounce next summer.

How do you then go about replacing somebody of Lewandowski’s calibre?

DO THEY NEED A MORE FORWARD THINKING MANAGER?

Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann could replace Ancelotti

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Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann could replace Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti is without doubt one of the greatest managers to grace the European game after winning domestic trophies in Europe’s top five leagues.

But the Italian is reaching the end of his time at the top and it’s unsurprising to see rumours of a final swansong in China circulating.

Reports in recent weeks claim the dressing room is in a bit of a slump with Ancelotti unable to inject the kind of vigour to kickstart an already stuttering season.

Julian Nagelsmann, the young Hoffenheim manager, is earmarked as his long-term replacement but other suitable replacements are few and far between.

REJECTIONS FROM GERMANY’S NEXT GENERATION

Brandt wants to be playing regular football next season for Bayer Leverkusen

EPA
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Julian Brandt rejected Bayern this summer

Bayern Munich has always been the pinnacle for Germany’s best players, especially when you consider Mario Goteze and Mats Hummels traded Borussia Dortmund – their closest domestic rivals – for Bavaria.

Bayern continued that tradition by recruiting Sebastien Rudy and Niklas Sule from Hoffenheim in the summer but both Julian Brandt and Leon Goretzka snubbed their advances.

Goretzka is a target for Juventus while Brandt remains part of Jurgen Klopp’s long-term plans at Liverpool, so does Bayern still have the same pull factor as the number one destination for Germany’s emerging generation?

It doesn’t seem that way…

CONCLUSION

Ancelotti is intending to extend his stay with the German giants

Getty - Contributor
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Ancelotti needs to find the answers

Sure it might be a bit trigger happy to predict impending doom and gloom at a club who have dominated in Germany for so long.

But their uninspiring start to the Bundesliga season suggests they might not canter unchallenged to the title in the manner they have in recent seasons.

They still boast some of the finest players on the planet and in Thiago Alcantara one of the best of his generation, but replacing those on their way out may prove a lot more difficult than it has in the past.

Their first Champions League since 2013 now seems even more unlikely.


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