Alexis Sanchez could be Bayern Munich’s 'grenade' signing
KIT HOLDEN: As Bayern Munich were celebrating their 27th coronation as German champions on the Munich city hall balcony, president Uli Hoeness was already planning a summer of spending.
As Bayern Munich were celebrating their 27th coronation as German champions on the city hall balcony of Munich's Marienplatz, president Uli Hoeness was already planning a summer of spending.
'We need a mix of experienced players and players for the future,' Hoeness told reporters. 'We already have a lot of stars, so to improve our squad, we will need a few grenades.'
Grenades. Explosive transfers. That is the mot du jour when it comes to Bayern's transfer policy this summer.
Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez remains Bayern Munich's 'grenade' target for the transfer window
After a quarter-final exit from last season's Champions League, the German giants are keen to show that they are still punching in a category with Real Madrid, Barcelona and co. when it comes to attracting the biggest players.
Hoeness promised grenades, and grenades are what Munich expects. Bayern have already completed several signings for next season. Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule will arrive from Hoffenheim, while Serge Gnabry has joined from Werder Bremen.
To a man they are excellent young German players, but they are not explosive. The first true grenade may well be Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez shares an agent with Arturo Vidal, who has urged Bayern to bring him to Munich
SANCHEZ IN NUMBERS
2016/17 - All competitions
Games played: 51
Goals scored: 30
Total for Arsenal (2014-2017)
Games played: 145
Goals scored: 72
The Chilean's future has been a hot topic in England for months. So too in Germany, where Bayern have made no secret of their interest in acquiring Sanchez's services. In the last six weeks, the transfer has been ubiquitous in Germany's sports pages.
Sanchez has been declared too expensive. He has been reported to favour a move to Munich. Bayern have been said to have been beaten by the punch by Manchester City. Yet still the rumours will not go away. Sanchez to Bayern remains, it seems, firmly on the cards.
There are good reasons for it to work. Sanchez shares an agent with his compatriot and friend Arturo Vidal, who has urged the Bayern bosses to bring his fellow Chilean to Munich.
Kingsley Coman may not be able to take up the responsibility of succeeding Arjen Robben
Along with Franck Ribery, the Dutchman is entering the twilight of his career at Bayern Munich
'When they asked me about Sanchez, I said that they had to sign him,' Vidal told Spanish newspaper Sport last month. 'He's an incredible player, but he needs to take the final step and join one of the best teams in the world.'
For Bayern, too, the transfer makes sense. In recent years, the club have begun to plan for the day when Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery can no longer perform at their best.
The likes of Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman have struggled to settle, however, as Robben and Ribery have maintained an unassailable level well into their thirties.
Sanchez, with his ability to play centrally as well as on the wing, may have more of a chance of slotting into the Bayern side both before and after Robben and Ribery's star fades.
In the prime of his career, he would bridge the gap between the two superstars and young attacking talents such as Coman and Gnabry. Put like that, it all makes sense, and Bayern have indicated that they may be ready to break the bank for the Chilean.
Sanchez would provide the perfect stopgap between the veterans and the youth in Munich
With the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain also linked to the forward, Bayern face a fierce bidding war. Hoeness insisted last month that Bayern are 'prepared to do things they haven't done before' when it comes to big money transfers, and a transfer of this size would certainly be new territory for Bayern.
In recent weeks, both kicker and Bild have reported that any Sanchez deal would be worth around £88million, with the player demanding a salary of £22m per year. To put that in context, Bayern's current highest earner is Robert Lewandowski, with an estimated salary of around £13m.
When Toni Kroos left for Real Madrid, part of the reason was that Bayern were reluctant to upgrade his salary to above the €10m mark. For them to give Sanchez nearly three times that amount just three years after letting Kroos go would be dramatic change of policy.
And it is raising a few eyebrows in and around the club. Just a few weeks ago, the talk was still of Antoine Griezmann and Marco Veratti being Bayern's summer grenades. For many who follow the club, Sanchez would be a disappointing alternative.
Toni Kroos was allowed to leave Bayern Munich because of his high wage demands while Robert Lewandowski is their current highest earner on £13m per year
In comparison, Sanchez is demanding £22m per year, a figure that would shock Munich fans
'Sanchez is not a grenade. A grenade is somebody who people see on the street and say "wow", it's really him!' wrote one Bild columnist. 'With Sanchez, that will only happen if he is with Arturo Vidal and people recognise the mohican.'
The same columnist went on to point out Sanchez's 'failure' at Barcelona, and insist that Mesut Ozil, Marco Verratti and Paulo Dybala would be closer to grenade status.
Sanchez's playing style is certainly explosive. The amount of money he would ask of Bayern would send shockwaves through Munich.
Most Bayern fans would be delighted to have him, but almost everyone would raise eyebrows at the expenditure. If Sanchez does join Bayern, he will be under pressure to prove himself from day one. To prove that he really is the grenade the club is looking for.