Bayern Munich fans seem to be the only ones who are not amused by the reported transfer of Bavarian icon Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The 30-year-old is, according to media reports, about to leave the German champions after 17 years and will join Champions League rivals Manchester United.
Schweinsteiger will reportedly sign a three-year contract in England and follow his former Bayern coach Louis van Gaal. ‘Man U’ is reportedly paying between 18 and 20 million euros for the midfielder and he will be paid up to 13 million euros per season.
Soon after the reports emerged, fans started to express their concern that Bayern Munich would “sell its identity”. During the last days blogs popped up like “Schweinsteiger must stay”, “football God stay” or “pro Schweinsteiger”.
Schweinsteiger is the second German-born midfielder who is leaving Bayern in the era of Spanish coach Pep Guardiola. The 45-year-old was not willing to grant Schweinsteiger a place in the starting XI. But Schweinsteiger needs to be part of the line-up as he plans to lead the German national team as captain during the 2016 Euro in France.
Van Gaal, other than Guardiola, is willing to guarantee Schweinsteiger a key role. Before Schweinsteiger, Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos also left Bayern to join Real Madrid.
Schweinsteiger’s exit is regarded as another signal from Bayern’s leading figures such as CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in favour of Guardiola. Many around the club see Rummenigge’s policy as a risk.
Daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote “Bayern Munich depends in his future plans on a coach like they have never done before”. Magazine Focus changed the Bayern slogan “Mia san mia” (we are us) to “Mia san Guardiola”, meaning Bayern is entirely dependent on Guardiola.
Now it is expected that Guardiola is allowed to re-invest the Schweinsteiger transfer money into a new player after Bayern have just signed Brazilian winger Douglas Costa. And that despite the fact that Guardiola has not yet signed a new contract.
Rummenigge, however, has expressed his wish that he will. Guardiola’s current one ends in 2016. With Schweinsteiger leaving, many fear that the Spanish faction will increase as in Bayern’s midfield. Guardiola seems to be favouring a midfield of Alonso, Thiago, Martinez and Costa.
The Spaniard is now under much more pressure than ever before. If he again fails to get to the Champions League final or has to go through a crisis in the Bundesliga, he will be under fire from Bayern fans — a fact even Rummenigge can’t ignore.
During last season, 2014 World Champion Schweinsteiger increasingly got the impression he has lost the race for a place in Bayern’s midfield as he was often sidelined.
To gain more respect a few years ago, Schweinsteiger actually asked fans and the public not to call him “Schweini”. The nickname was more appropriate to a junior player than the leader of the senior team he wanted to be seen as. A leader like he was in the 2014 World Cup final when he conquered fans’ hearts as a hero with a bleeding cheek.
When van Gaal was coach at Bayern, Schweinsteiger was his man as he now will be at Manchester. In Munich, more and more doubts grew that Bayern does not need Schweinsteiger as he seemed to lack the needed speed. The combination of Schweinsteiger-Alonso seldom worked well.
On top, Schweinsteiger had injuries and missed 14 games last season. Early on, Guardiola did send little signs to his club that he prefers more dynamic players like Thiago, Alonso and Lahm, or Alaba and Hoejberg.
Now, the man who seemed to fit at Munich like the ‘Hofbrauhaus’ (Munich’s most famous beer temple), is leaving. Even experienced players like Schweinsteiger need confidence, something Bayern and Guardiola were not willing to give him.
Schweinsteiger’s transfer means that Guardiola’s credit is gone. The Spaniard will have to deliver results now.