David Alaba Will Be a Big Loss but Bayern Munich Will Have a Plan to Replace Him

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Bayern Munich fans may have seen it coming, but the news that David Alaba will almost certainly not be extending his contract at the Allianz Arena was still a blow. The club had been in negotiations with the player’s representatives for several months, but a lack of progress saw Bayern withdraw from discussions earlier this month.

As things stand, Alaba will seek pastures new in the summer of 2021. He could even find new employers in January, although Bayern would probably prefer to keep him for the whole campaign rather than selling him for a fee in the winter window.

A host of major clubs around Europe have already been linked with the Austria international, who has spent his entire career to date at Bayern save for a brief loan spell with Hoffenheim in 2011. That is no surprise. Alaba is a tremendous player who would strengthen any squad in the world. He is technically gifted, tactically intelligent and, at 28, still has plenty of soccer left in him.

He is versatile too. Alaba started his career as a left-back, and although he continued in that position during Pep Guardiola’s time at the Allianz Arena, he was instructed to take up midfield positions at times. He has also started games in the centre of the park and has been repurposed as a center-back by Hansi Flick.

The Time May Have Come for Alaba to Try Something Different

Alaba may yet extend his stay in Bavaria, even if that prospect looks unlikely right now. Uli Hoeness, the former Bayern present, blamed his agent Pini Zahavi for the impasse.

Hoeness told Sport1:

He has a greedy piranha for an agent. He lets himself be influenced by him very much. This is really all about the money. He is already at the best club in the world. Where else would he go?

The answer to that question is ‘anywhere he wants’. The likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Juventus, and Barcelona are sure to be interested in Alaba, particularly if he is available for free. And perhaps Hoeness is wrong about this being all about money. Alaba might simply be tempted to seek a new challenge after 10 years in Munich.

Bayern are certainly one of the biggest clubs in the world, but Hoeness should remember that Alaba had a different upbringing from him. Hoeness was born in the German city of Ulm, less than 100 miles from the Allianz Arena. Alaba is Austrian, and although he joined Bayern aged 16, he did not grow up with the club as Hoeness did.

It would be perfectly reasonable if the defender wanted to experience something different at this stage of his career. And since the next contract he signs could be the last big one before retirement, Alaba is entitled to make sure he gets the best deal possible.

Bayern’s Recruitment Has Been Quietly Excellent in Recent Years

Alaba has been a major success at Bayern and will be remembered as an integral contributor to their dominance of German soccer over the last decade. As well as nine Bundesliga titles, he has played a part in two Champion League triumphs, and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year three seasons running between 2013 and 2015. Even if he does seek pastures new next summer, the 28-year-old will depart with over 400 appearances for Bayern to his name – no mean feat given the size of the club and the expectations that come with donning their jersey.

Yet while Bayern fans will be sad to see Alaba go, they should have faith in the club’s ability to replace him. Indeed, the Bavarians’ recruitment has been largely excellent in the last few years, and other European superclubs could certainly learn a lesson or two from the reigning kings of the continent.

Alaba will not be the first stalwart Bayern has bid goodbye to in the last few years. Philipp Lahm brought the curtain down on his career in 2017. Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben both ended their time at Bayern in 2019. Yet far from growing weaker with those substantial losses, Bayern became European champions for a sixth time earlier this year, and are favorites to win the Champions League again this term – DraftKings Sportsbook offers +250 on another Bayern triumph.

Part of the reason for that is the club’s long-term outlook. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are now the first-choice wingers in Bayern’s system, following in Robben and Ribery’s footsteps. Coman, still only 24, arrived in Munich in 2015. Gnabry was signed in 2017, meaning the two wingers were on the books before Robben and Ribery had departed. Joshua Kimmich, the heir to Lahm, arrived at Bayern in 2015.


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Replacing players before they have actually left is a smart policy. Bayern paid €7 million for Kimmich, €28 million for Coman, and €8 million for Gnabry. It would have cost them a great deal more had they sought ready-made successors to Lahm, Robben and Ribery after the three players had moved on.

On a similar note, Alphonso Davies is poised to be Bayern’s left-back for years to come. The 20-year-old arrived at the Allianz Arena from Vancouver Whitecaps in a deal worth $22 million in 2018. The Canadian could well be on his way to being the best player in his position in world soccer. Indeed, his emergence has already forced Alaba to move into the center of defense.

Bayern may well be in the market for a new center-back if Alaba does depart next summer, or they could simply promote from within and use Lucas Hernandez or Niklas Sule as a regular starter. Alaba is a superb player and Bayern are a stronger outfit with him in their squad, but the recruitment team at the Allianz Arena is once again a few steps ahead.

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Greg Lea

Expert on Soccer

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]