“Bayern Munich contract chaos threatens Kane era”

The Bavarians are excited by the arrival of the England striker, but uncertainty remains at the Allianz Arena

When Harry Kane signed a four-year contract with Bayern Munich this summer, he was considered the centerpiece of a project that would flourish in Europe for an extended period of time. The team around him was full of international stars.

Canadian captain Alphonso Davies was on the left. Germany’s legendary player Joshua Kimmich played in the middle. Holland’s next great centre-back, Matthijs de Ligt, took command of the defence. Add in Manuel Neuer, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala for good measure and the Bavarians had a squad ready to compete for them all.

So far, things are moving in the right direction. Bayern are strong all over the pitch, while Kane can – and probably will – break the Bundesliga single-season goalscoring record. Bayer Leverkusen may be top of the table, but Bayern are fully prepared to counterattack if Xabi Alonso’s side slip up.

However, there are some issues behind the scenes. Contract uncertainty has put the Bayern careers of Davies, De Ligt and Kimmich at risk, with all three potentially facing exits within the next 18 months. Meanwhile, manager Thomas Tuchel has been unable to get the best out of some potentially valuable attacking players. It all amounts to a team on tenterhooks, in danger of breaking down around Kane, the summer signing who was supposed to take it to the next level.

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This entire matter can be found out in March 2023. The Bavarians were not struggling at all under the tutelage of then manager Julian Nagelsmann. But they too were not prosperous. Dortmund were on top of the league at the time, while an underperforming Bayern team could not score any valuable runs. In the end, inconsistency cost Nagelsmann his job, sending the groovy, skateboard-riding German packing on an inconspicuous Thursday night – just a fortnight before a Champions League knockout game.

Of course, some of Bayern’s most high-profile players didn’t help Nagelsmann. Thomas Muller was his usual tone, while Manuel Neuer, who is not long out from the sidelines with a season-ending broken leg, criticized the Bavarian setup in an interview with The Athletic in January last year.

Then, there was the Sadio Mane situation. The club’s key signing of the summer of 2022 was known for his good nature and calmness at Liverpool, but became an agent of chaos in Germany. Firstly, he was involved in a heavy altercation with Nagelsmann after limited playing time against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Then, after a heavy defeat to Manchester City he reportedly punched Sane in the dressing room.

Tuchel had taken charge by that time and seemed a shrewd replacement. The manager had ended his three previous jobs – at Borussia Dortmund, PSG and Chelsea – in poor circumstances. But he was also a tough guys-manager who could understand a divided locker room. And he did the job by taking Bayern to the title.

However, their Bundesliga victory owes much to Dortmund’s final-day collapse – and this

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‘Dismiss the board!’

CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic both lost their jobs within hours of the Bavarians winning the league title on the final day. In the following weeks, it was revealed that all contract negotiations had been halted. Davis, who had already been linked to a move away, postponed discussions. It was the same story with Kimmich and, even more worryingly, future star Musiala, who needed closure.

Kahn and Salihamidzic may have overseen a tumultuous season, but they still had the valuable trust of both the team and the agents overseeing them. Negotiations were difficult for Davis, while Musiala was not easy to please. But both felt they were capable of completing the task. Instead, everything stopped.

Kimmich in danger

Kimmich was the first to see his position under pressure. Kane was Bayern’s key summer signing, but Tuchel had ambitions to improve the team elsewhere. The defensive midfield was targeted as a key area. This made no sense, especially given the presence of world-class No. 6 Kimmich, who could also play at full-back. Nevertheless, Tuchel saw the versatile German as a weakness, while outside voices also grew increasingly critical. German veteran Lothar Matthäus’s assessment was perhaps the most damning. “Not only is he not as present on the pitch anymore, but after the game he is not as present. He hides away,” he said.

As a result, Tuchel pursued João Pahlinha, a player of a different mold to Kimmich, particularly strong in areas in which the German was weakening. The Fulham player made the most tackles in the Premier League in 2022-23 with 147 tackles, bettering second-placed Moises Caicedo by 47.

Kimmich had increasingly become a wily player, a haunting presence. Tuchel wanted a hard-nosed destroyer. The first one was that man. The move fell through on deadline day last summer, with Pahlinha flying to Munich, performing media duties, and putting pen to paper before being sent home when Fulham couldn’t sign a viable replacement in time. Did everything except.

While Kimmich is still a regular this year, it is clear that the 28-year-old player, once considered the crown jewel of German football’s class of 1995, is now expendable.Transfer rumors have emerged, with the defensive midfielder being linked with a move to fill the still vacant role left by Sergio Busquets at Barcelona. And although being linked with Catalunya is hardly a new concept for a footballer of any age, there is a real feeling that he could be leaving.

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Real Madrid move for Davis

Davis finds himself in a similar situation, even if it is of his own making. The left-back’s agent has publicly speculated about a move to Real Madrid for several months, while the player has done nothing to distance himself from that claim.

The wing-back’s assist numbers are back to their normal levels after a difficult 2022-23 campaign. But he has struggled at the other end of the pitch, and still looks a long way from the player who proved vital to Bayern’s sextuple-winning season in 2020.

Meanwhile, Madrid have reportedly encouraged Davies to shy away from penning a new deal, and are keen to see him run out of his contract which expires in 2025. Los Blancos are not exactly short on left-backs, but see Davies as part of a fruitful summer in which they will also target Kylian Mbappe.

Bayern have denied those rumors but are still wary of a potential departure.

“There has been speculation for a long time. Fonzi has a contract with us until 2025. I believe that he really enjoys playing for FC Bayern. We would really like him to stay at Bayern for a long time. We will negotiate,” sporting director Christoph Freund told Bild.

d lit dilemma

De Ligt is also in a precarious position. The centre-back was one of Nagelsmann’s big signings, brought in from Juventus in 2022 for €77 million (£65m/$79m). At the time, he was a projected future star, being the long-term partner of Virgil van Dijk. The Netherlands’ back-line. Bayern had a centre-back of a generation. However, Nagelsmann’s dismissal changed things.

“I didn’t see it coming and I was surprised. We’re second in the league, in the quarter-finals of the cup and the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Everything is still there,” the Netherlands international told NOS. In March 2023. “The people in charge decide who the coach is, but it was hard to swallow. But I also believe that Tuchel is a coach who is suitable for us.”

But Tuchel has not taken to De Ligt in the same way. He saw his minutes decrease when the new manager arrived, and he has made only four starts so far this year, falling behind Kim Min Jae and Dayot Upamecano in the pecking order. There are reports that the manager does not like De Ligt’s style, complaining that he is too slow in build-up play.

De Ligt has expressed his displeasure by storming out of the dressing room in anger after Bayern’s 4-3 win over Man United in the Champions League – a game in which he was an unused substitute. Not surprisingly, discussions about transfer have begun in full swing.

There are other question marks, not just over Musiala. Despite being one of the few players to succeed under Tuchel, Sane’s future is also the subject of speculation. The same applies to Serge Gnabry, who is struggling with poor form and could be sold this month or in the summer.

solution for bayern

However, help is reportedly available. The Bavarians were without a clear sporting director for nine months following Salihamidzic’s departure. They’ve recently got their man, renowned negotiator Max Eberl is scheduled to start work before April 1. It seems likely that his impact on any potential winter transfers will be minimal. But when it comes to contract negotiations, Eberle seems to be the right man for the job, having developed good relationships first at Borussia Mönchengladbach, then at RB Leipzig.

This is especially good news for Kane. He hoped to join a team that would help them compete for Europe’s biggest prizes. The move away from Spurs can be attributed to many things, but ultimately it was a desire to get his hands on some silverware that brought him to Bavaria. Now, with uncertainty rife within the ranks, there is no clear path to a medal this season. If the team remains as unstable as it appears to be, its prospects won’t improve much in the future.

Individual numbers have been impressive so far: 16 games, 22 goals, five assists. He is on pace to break Robert Lewandowski’s goalscoring record (41, set in 2021). He is in good touch ahead of Euro 2024 – a tournament England will be one of the favorites to win.

But this move was about relying on the strength of the team around him. And the stability he once sought is beginning to waver. Success may not be as immediate as Kane had hoped.

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