News Matches
African All Stars

Will Mane signing be enough for Bayern Munich to compete on all fronts?

20:18 GMT+3 02/08/2022
Sadio Mane FC Bayern 2022
The Senegal superstar is the only stellar attacking arrival since Robert Lewandowski’s departure, leading to suggestions of insufficient firepower

What possibly pleased Julian Nagelsmann more than Bayern Munich picking up the first trophy of the German domestic football season against old side RB Leipzig was the mix of goal scorers.

The Bavarians scored five times in the 5-3 success and there was a different scorer for each goal—Jamal Musiala, Sadio Mane, Benjamin Pavard, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane. While Musiala and Pavard’s goals came about from set pieces, it was not lost on anyone that four of those strikes came from attackers.

It was just one competitive game, so it will be odd to conclude from the DFL-Supercup success, but it was still an encouraging sign in the actualisation of Nagelsmann and Bayern’s vision of replacing Robert Lewandowski’s goals.

Indeed, finding solutions to replenish the Poland superstar’s return in the final third was never going to be straightforward. The 33-year-old netted 30 Bundesliga goals in five of his eight seasons at FC Hollywood, leaving big shoes to fill in the Bayern attack.

Several solutions were postulated — getting someone of comparable age and quality, spreading the goals among the forwards or acquiring a young marksman with potential to grow — with the Italian media even suggesting the Bundesliga giants were considering a move for Victor Osimhen.

While that solution would see the Munich outfit bring in a 23-year-old who already packs a punch and has an even higher ceiling, GOAL explained why a transfer for the Napoli frontman was implausible this summer.

The likelihood of that appeared slim anyway, following Nagelsmann’s remarks after Lewandowski’s departure for Barcelona last month.

“It's a big challenge to replace Lewandowski. I'm not worried right now, we are very well equipped offensively and I'm still spoiled for choice,” the Bayern boss told BR24 after the marksman was sold.

“We have a possibility of building FC Bayern without a striker that can reliably score 40 goals. It's an interesting task for me and my coaching staff.

“With Sadio Mane, we signed a player who played a lot as centre-forward for Liverpool last season, who is a different type of player to Lewy, not a classic striker.”

The responsibility handed to Nagelsmann’s cadre of forwards will test their consistency and efficiency but they gave their manager reason to be optimistic after taking up the gauntlet against Leipzig.

Mane — deployed centrally in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 — netted the second of the side’s goals and might have had a hat-trick had two second-half efforts not been ruled out for offside.

The forward’s versatility will greatly benefit his new side just as much as his recent experience playing centrally in the second half of last year at Liverpool.

The arrival and impact of Luis Diaz meant Jurgen Klopp had to improvise and shoe-horn his three menacing forwards in the side as the Reds competed on all fronts domestically and in Europe.

That is Bayern’s ambition for the 2022-23 campaign, but doubts persist over the absence of a recognised centre-forward and Nagelsmann’s alteration in last year’s modus operandi.

It was somewhat interesting to see the Bavarians line up in a 3-5-2 for the majority of pre-season, with the 35-year-old tactician playing Mane in tandem with another forward up top.

This was a departure from the 4-2-3-1 he favoured in his maiden campaign at the club and Lewandowski’s last at the Allianz Arena, but a formation he employed in Saturday’s win… perhaps knowing what was at stake.

Whether the talented trainer retains this approach this season or opts for the back three seen in the off-season will be worth keeping an eye on as the campaign progresses. But perhaps, more importantly, would be monitoring how Bayern spread the goals around in the imminent Bundesliga campaign, strikingly with Mane the only attacking arrival this summer.

Admittedly, it would be remiss to ignore the acquisition of Mathys Tel — the big-money teenage arrival from State Rennes — but one who, at 17 and with only seven substitute Ligue 1 appearances last season, is not expected to be thrown in the deep end, while Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Joshua Zirkzee remain centre-forward alternatives for Nagelsmann.

Be that as it may, doubts unsurprisingly persist nonetheless owing to the expectation to not only claim an 11th straight Bundesliga crown but also compete in the Champions League.

Bayern’s last continental title came post-lockdown in 2020, a campaign where Lewandowski netted a staggering 15 times en route to Die Bayern’s sixth European success.

Matching that tally may be out of reach for any one individual in this current iteration, yet it has not lessened the club’s ambition to compete in the two biggest competitions despite their alteration in approach.

“I am really happy to have won my first trophy with Bayern,” a beaming Mane stated after Saturday’s Supercup victory. “First game, first title - I can't complain. I'm looking forward to more titles.”

Without a doubt, the next 10 months will be decisively indicative for FC Hollywood who seek to justify that there was any method to what some observers will otherwise consider madness in this summer’s window.