?Bayern Munich haven’t won the Champions League or even reached the final since 2013. For a club among the elite that has so easily dominated its domestic league in recent years – Bayern have won each of the last six Bundesliga titles by at least 10 points – they have fallen short.
What’s more, it feels as though the club is now falling further away from being able to genuinely challenge for the Champions League after failing to reinvigorate an ageing team and bringing in players who are not good enough for the level Bayern want to be at.
Reputable speculation that the club is ‘confident’ of landing Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer in the summer is just further evidence of that.
And the recruitment policy that kept Bayern on top in Germany for so long, plucking from the ‘best of the rest’ to weaken their domestic rivals, appears to no longer be working either. They are currently seven points adrift of Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, a gap that was increased when Dortmund beat them in Der Klassiker at Westfalenstadion last weekend.
Ramsey is billed as being part of a much needed ‘refresh’ for the Bayern squad. But bringing in players who are not as good as those in need of refreshing is not the answer.
The Welshman has always been a talented individual, but world class he is not. Arsenal have already shown that they are starting to function without him, with manager Unai Emery only prepared to use him as a substitute in each of the last five Premier League games as other midfielders like Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guenduozi get priority.
Ramsey, who deserves praise for fighting back from a horrific broken leg early in his career, has often offered promise for Arsenal during a decade at the club. He has shown flashes of brilliance at times, but never enough to push the Gunners back to the top. If he hasn’t been able to do that for Arsenal, how will he at Bayern where the expectation is higher and the pressure greater?
Perhaps adding a little extra ‘depth’ to a squad already full of depth but thin on actual front row quality, Ramsey is not the player that Bayern need if they are to realise their ambitions.
This is not about criticising Ramsey for not having enough elite quality because it appears to have become a familiar story. Where once they were able to sign Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund, a player with proven Champions League pedigree before he arrived, Bayern have since brought in players like Sandro Wagner and Serge Gnabry.
Leon Goretzka has only played a bit part role since his much talked about free transfer from Schalke and arguably isn’t the world beater many expected or hoped he would be. Veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have been incredible servants but continue to play significant roles at a combined age of 69, while Renato Sanches is suddenly getting games again after returning from a dismal loan spell at Swansea.
Bayern were also one of the club’s rumoured to be interested in signing Emre Can for free, a player who hasn’t been deemed good enough to command a regular place at Juventus – a team Bayern aspires to compete against in Europe – and has started only three games this season.
Bayern’s recruitment has let them down. It is not entirely their own fault as Der Spiegel’s major exposé on Manchester City earlier this month explained how they had been interested in signing Kevin de Bruyne in 2015 but were simply blown out of the water by the Premier League side.
The same Der Spiegel report further suggested Bayern were also interested in Leroy Sane a year later, but were again unable to match City’s alleged promise of guaranteeing that he would earn an astonishing €28m in his first three seasons.
But notwithstanding an inability to compete with Manchester City in the transfer market, precious few – if any – can, Bayern must know that they have to do better than signing players of the quality of Aaron Ramsey if they are going to be European champions again any time soon.