Bayern Munich don't have January needs, could let Julian Green move on
With the transfer window upon us, here's a look at what to expect from Bayern Munich ...
Will Pep Guardiola be busy in the transfer market?
No. Sorry to disappoint but it's highly unlikely that Bayern Munich will participate in any panic buying during the transfer window. Can you blame them? Even a lengthy injury list has proved little more than a minor inconvenience to Treble-seeking Bayern, who dropped only five points prior to the Bundesliga winter break with 15 wins in 17 games to open up an eight-point lead over nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund.
Buoyed by their best-ever group-stage campaign -- five wins from six and 19 goals -- Bayern also cruised through to the round of 16 in the Champions League. Bayern will stick to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle and will be comforted by the prospect of some of their indisposed creative talent, including the likes of David Alaba, Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa, Franck Ribery and Mario Gotze, returning to full fitness for the business end of the season.
What do Bayern need?
No one, unless calamity strikes in the winter training camp in Qatar. Guardiola, who is leaving the club next summer, has a luxury of riches in his star-studded squad, but if Bayern are short of cover anywhere, it's in the forward positions. A long-term injury to a key player up front, such as the red-hot Robert Lewandowski or Thomas Muller, could force Bayern to do some business and unexpectedly join the transfer merry-go-round.
Depending on the severity of injuries in the squad, you also could make a case for an extra central defender to compete for the slot alongside Jerome Boateng. Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber and Medhi Benatia have all suffered horribly with injuries and none of them have looked the real deal alongside the rock Boateng. Bayern can normally get away with it in the Bundesliga, but they will need the best option available, especially with the tricky Champions League clash against Mario Mandzukic's Juventus looming.
Yet the history books reveal that Bayern don't normally flash the cash in the January sales. We have to go back almost five years for their last major acquisition at this juncture, when Luis Gustavo arrived from Hoffenheim in January 2011 for €10 million -- a final act of desperation from Louis van Gaal as his reign in Munich petered out. The Brazilian midfielder was Van Gaal's last signing at the club before he was unceremoniously dumped three months later.
Along with the increasingly desperate Van Gaal at Manchester United, Bayern have been linked with Southampton's midfielder Sadio Mane. If it came to a bidding battle for the highly rated forward, Bayern probably wouldn't stand in United's way. Any fee for the Senegalese international could reach obscene proportions, with Premier League clubs armed with a massive TV money treasure chest and Southampton's manager Ronald Koeman stating that Mane "wouldn't be sold for £100m."
There also have been whispers regarding Bayern's interest in Borussia Monchengladbach's skipper Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international midfielder has leadership potential and an uncanny eye for goal. He impressed recently when the Foals relieved Bayern of their unbeaten Bundesliga record.
However, neither of these rumoured deals for the 23-year-old midfielders would happen until the summer.
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Bayern are one of the few clubs in the world who can afford to turn down a rumoured €120m bid from Manchester United for Muller. Money is no object for the flush German champions. Let's be realistic: Buoyant Bayern can buy anyone they want. Anyone. Including Bundesliga top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund if they really wanted to. Consider the signings of Lewandowski and Mario Gotze if you are in any doubt.
However, as mentioned previously, Bayern aren't normally major players at this time of the year, so how about a less controversial move for a left-field striker in the bulky shape of Paraguayan Raul Bobadilla from Augsburg? The ebullient 28-year-old has an infectious character and natural goal-scoring ability to light up Bayern as a backup striker for Lewandowski.
Jan Kirchhoff. Remember him? Certainly, it would be a major surprise if Kirchhoff is still at the club after the transfer window slams shut. The 25-year-old has never actually started a league game for Bayern, managing a mere seven appearances as a substitute in 2013. The following year, he endured an injury-ravaged 18-month spell on loan at Schalke, suffering long-term knee and Achilles tendon injuries. After recovering from his latest niggle, the former German under-21 international was banished to Bayern's reserves in the Regionalliga. His contract is up in the summer, but a move in the January transfer window would be in everyone's interest to allow Kirchhoff the opportunity to kick-start a once promising career.
Julian Green is a World Cup squad member who also has been languishing in the Regionalliga this season. Out of the blue, Guardiola handed the U.S. international a first competitive start for injury-hit Bayern in the Champions League this month and a surprise opportunity to put himself in the shop window. But the 20-year-old failed to impress during a lacklustre performance in Zagreb and Bayern wouldn't stand in his way if his agent could find him regular football elsewhere.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Twitter: @LovellLowdown.