While this statement sent shockwaves throughout Germany and Europe, with a harsh rebuttal from the Bayern board, it was not entirely surprising. Ever since Flick took over the reins of Germany’s most successful club in November 2019, the 56-year-old has come into disagreement with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. This relationship, while uneasy over the last year, has boiled to an untenable denouement.
With one of Bayern’s most successful managers in history leaving after this season, the Bavarians face an uncertain future. How will the famous club look in 2021/22 and who will be managing them?
Bayern Munich’s 2021/22 Outlook Without Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick Bayern Legacy
In 2020, Hansi Flick guided Bayern to arguably the club’s most successful calendar year in its esteemed history by winning six trophies, including the highly-coveted Champions League.
Flick’s style of play, with intense high-pressing at its core, helped fuel the German giants to great heights. Bayern scored 100 goals in the Bundesliga and impressively dominated their opposition, particularly the 8-2 obliteration of Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.
This season, despite the shocking elimination to Holstein Kiel in the DFB Pokal, along with the disappointment of crashing out on away goals to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals, Bayern are still on course to win the club’s ninth-straight Bundesliga. Flick’s side have scored 85 goals from 30 matches, while overcoming several injuries to key stars, including forward Robert Lewandowski. If Bayern win the league, it will be a deserved and proper sendoff for Flick.
Bayern’s Top Target to Replace Hansi Flick
Who will Bayern replace Hansi Flick with? The most likely option and the club’s top target is current RB Leipzig boss, Julian Nagelsmann. The 33-year-old has impressed so far in his young career, guiding Hoffenheim to a fourth-place Bundesliga finish in 2016/17 and a third-place finish in 2017/18 (scoring the second-most goals in the process).
Nagelsmann’s tenure at Leipzig has also been accomplished, with Die Roten Bullen finishing third in the Bundesliga last season while advancing to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in club history. This season, they are on course to finish second (behind Bayern) and advanced to the Champions League knockout stages, eliminating Manchester United in the process.
Leipzig also have conceded the fewest number of goals in the Bundesliga this season (25), which can only be viewed as another positive for the Bayern hierarchy, as the Rekordmeister have let in 38 league goals past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Nagelsmann is tactically astute, who learned under Thomas Tuchel when the current Chelsea boss managed the Augsburg reserves in 2007/08. His high-pressing attacking philosophy will fit Bayern well, along with his potential connection to the players, due to his young age.
One aspect of Nagelsmann’s young managerial career that may cause concern is his teams’ penchant for finishing league seasons in poor form. In his final season at Hoffenheim (2018/19), the club failed to win in the final four matches of the Bundesliga, claiming only one point from a possible 12. At Leipzig last season, his squad only won two of the final five matches. And this season, they have won only two of the last six, allowing Bayern to run away with the league once again (ten-point lead with four matches to play).
If Nagelsmann is going to succeed at Bayern, where standards are incredibly high and tolerance for inconsistency is rare, he will need to perform at a high level at all times, especially during the stretch run of seasons.
Tottenham Hotspur are also interested in Nagelsmann’s services, following the sacking of Jose Mourinho on Monday. With a potential €20 million fee needed to pry the German away from Leipzig, it will not be easy or cheap. However, given Nagelsmann’s background, if Bayern come calling, it will be difficult to turn them down, and when Bayern covet someone (especially in the Bundesliga), they generally get their way.
A Key New Signing
Another question mark for Bayern in 2021/22 will be their back four. The club’s defensive record this season has been very poor, and improvements will need to be made.
Bayern will be boosted by the signing of 22-year-old Dayot Upamecano from Leipzig for €42.50 million. The impressive centre-back promises to play a key role in Bayern’s backline, especially if his current manager, Nagelsmann, joins him there.
A mainstay at Bayern since 2011, Alaba has amassed 26 trophies with the club, including nine Bundesliga crowns (soon to be ten) and two Champions League titles. Alaba’s flexibility to play at left-back, centre-back and central midfield has helped Bayern overcome player absences due to injuries, and he will be sorely missed.
Another key defender, Niklas Süle, has struggled with injury over the last couple of years, but the 25-year-old will be expected to step up even more next season, assuming he is still at the club. Chelsea are reportedly considering making a move for the German, depending on if Bayern renegotiate his contract, which is set to expire in one year. Bayern will be determined to keep Süle, but with Upamecano incoming, nothing is certain.
Jerome Boateng is another defender who will be leaving Bayern in the summer. The 32-year-old, like Alaba, has been at the club since 2011, winning 24 trophies in the process. Flick’s trust in Boateng paid off last season when the centre-back was instrumental in Bayern’s march to six titles. Boateng will also be able to leave on a free transfer, which further added to the ongoing rift between Flick and Salihamidzic, with the manager unwilling to cast Boateng away at the season’s conclusion.
Bayern will also expect Lucas Hernández to continue to perform well at left and centre-back (like he did against PSG), along with the continued growth of 20-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies and right-back Benjamin Pavard.
Midfield is more straightforward for the European champions. Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka have made a formidable partnership in the midfield this season, combining for a total of 13 goals and 23 assists Of course, the lack of depth beyond them is an issue, as Marc Roca and Corentin Tolisso have generally been disappointing.
Whether Bayern sign another central midfielder for cover, especially considering the injuries to both Kimmich and Goretzka this season, is not a guarantee.
A Potent Attack
Finally, Bayern’s attack for 2021/22 looks to be as lethal as ever, with Robert Lewandowski leading the way once again. Scorer of 97 goals over the last two seasons, he remains in the form of his life. However, Lewandowski will turn 33 this August, and Bayern will need to discover a future replacement for the star sooner rather than later.
The same goes for Thomas Müller, who turns 32 in September. He remains on top form this season (14 goals and 21 assists), but like Lewandowski, is not getting any younger. Luckily for Bayern, the emergence of 18-year-old Jamal Musiala as Müller’s successor presents a feasible solution. However, replacing the Bayern legend will not be easy.
Additionally, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané will be crucial to Bayern’s future, with the three wingers all 25 or younger, and with expectations to continue to perform at high levels, or in Sané’s case, be more consistent.
Regardless of who leads Bayern from the dugout next season, he will need to win titles immediately and the players will need to play exciting winning football.
The future remains bright, but with a new manager incoming, along with defensive uncertainties, there are no guarantees at FC Hollywood.