I’m back from my short hiatus, and I already have my next take: Sadio Mané shouldn’t be Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski replacement. Sure, he’s a top forward-winger hybrid who can score quite a lot of goals and chip in with assists, but he’s no proper #9. And although it is quite possible that Bayern could change their approach and play a “true striker”-less formation, the club has thrived with traditional #9s throughout its history.
Gerd Müller, KHR, Élber, Luca Toni, Klinsmann, Pizarro, Roy Makaay, Klose, and of course, Robert Lewandowski are just some of the distinguished names that come to mind when we think of great Bayern strikers. When it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it, and the same applies here. Bayern just needs another proper 9 to take Lewandowski’s place when he departs (as much as it pains me to say this, I think Lewandowski is as good as gone, and we might as well start planning for the post-Lewy era.
Mané would more likely take Serge Gnabry’s place if a transfer materializes. The German winger doesn’t seem very keen on extending, despite the offer being more than fair. With the options for a striker replacement quickly drying out, here’s a list of players Brazzo and Co. can target to mitigate the massive loss of offensive firepower:
Note: Darwin Nuñez to Liverpool is more or less a done deal, so he doesn’t make this list.
Inter Milan’s star striker is a man the Bayern management have had their eyes on for a while. And so have various other big clubs in Europe. The talisman has scored 25 goals and 4 assists for Inter in the 2021/22 season, helping them to a comfortable second place finish. Despite not having the height we look for in typical no.9s, he’s pretty decent in the air, has a very powerful shot, is very quick, and has a mean dribble.
The assets that Bayern will value the most, however, are his abilities to interchange positions with the rest of the frontline and his spatial awareness, two qualities that make him deadly, with all his well timed runs and the ability to control and finish through- balls. This is something that could be particularly great for Kimmich and Müller, who specialize in quick passes and through balls.
The biggest roadblock, however, is the transfer fee. He’s tied down to Inter till 2026, and Bayern would have to pay a minimum fee of 80 million euros to even have a chance of landing him. I simply don’t see this happening, but the club could do a lot worse.
Definitely my second favorite choice on this list, and for good reason. I’m sure many of you went “who the bleep is that?”, and I honestly wouldn’t expect you to know either. This man has gone under the radar largely because of plying his trade for Sassuolo in the Serie A, and due to the emergence of players like Haaland and Nuñez who have taken the spotlight. But believe me, this man could be in a “top 10” striker conversation within a couple of years.
Firstly, he stands super tall at 1.95m (yes, he’s as tall as Niklas Süle) and would fulfill Bayern’s giant quota. Second, he has all the attributes Bayern looks for in a proper no.9: good holdup and linkup play, decent dribbling, good pace, strong passing stats, and a menace in the air. Third, he exhibits great leadership qualities, and has more or less carried his team to an 11th place finish. In 25 starts, he’s scored 16 goals for the club. For Sassuolo. Imagine what this dude can do with good service.
And here’s the best part: Bayern can potentially sign him this summer for 40 million or less. That’s actually 15 million less than what we’d be paying for a Mané transfer. He’s just 23, and just gave Germany’s defense multiple scares during their nations league confrontation with Italy. And he’s expected to cost downwards of 15 million a season in wages. That’s pretty cheap for strikers these days.
So yeah, a player to keep both eyes on.
The popular choice. A Bundesliga-proven option. A German speaker. Stands super tall at 2 meters (!!!) and is a beast in the air. Directly contributed to 23 Bundesliga goals in the 20/21 season, a figure that was reduced to just 8 in the 21/22 season as a result of a long-term injury. The Austrian is very physical, hard to mark, and has attracted the attention of various European clubs, including that of Bayern’s German rivals, Dortmund.
The Austrian would be available for a fee close to 20 million euros, and that might well be an absolute bargain. However, he did just return from a concerning injury recently, and this might hint at the possibility of more injuries in the future (especially if there’s a possibility of that injury re-occurring). There’s also another minor concern… his ceiling. He could well prove me wrong in the future, but Sasa doesn’t strike me as a player who can become a top striker on the global stage. He can be a great team player and possibly a consistent 25 goals a season striker, but I don’t see him getting to the level of Kane or Benzema, much less Lewandowski.
That is not a slight in any way, however, and he could well prove me wrong and become the striker replacement that we’ve all been looking for. He presents great value for money and is a solid option.
It’s always very refreshing to see super young talents feature in transfer bucket lists. They usually showcase tremendous potential, value for money, and the possibility of a long-term investment. And in this case, Sesko seems to tick all these boxes. The Slovenian phenom, who plies his trade for RB Salzburg, has been touted by many to be the ‘next big thing’. He’s a whopping 1.94 meters tall, has a powerful shot, is very quick, and is unafraid to get into challenges with opposition defenders.
He’s also strong in the air and has made his presence felt in the second half of the season, where he’s directly contributed to 11 goals. What’s more, he speaks German, is from the Red Bull setup, and is well suited to a pressing style. His hold-up play is underrated, his awareness and vision are excellent and his imposing style of play and the way he runs at defenses is reminiscent of a certain Erling Haaland, who incidentally also played for RB Salzburg before catapulting to the world stage.
Sesko might come for very cheap (20 million tops in transfer fees) and has a very high ceiling and huge potential. I would really love it if a transfer materialized since he has all it takes to take the beacon from Lewandowski and become the strike force for the Bavarians for the next decade. However, the small sample size and the lack of big-game experience could prove to be a bump on the road. That being said, there are several Bayern players who’ve matured tremendously over the years and become world beaters, and he could well be the next.
My favorite option, and probably the most well-rounded player on this list. Scintillating with his performances for Mainz in the Bundesliga and contributing 14 goals and 4 assists in his breakthrough season with the club, the 21-year-old has been impressing everyone, including German NT coach Hansi Flick, earning frequent call-ups. Yes, he’s just had one really good season so far, but the sample is highly promising.
The player is as good at creating as he is at scoring. He’s a center forward who can also thrive equally well as a false 9 or as a second striker. The man creates tons of chances for his teammates and had the most key passes in the Mainz team by a mile and a half. 6 feet tall, he’s also got the height and the physicality to make him a force in the box. He’s also deceptively quick and can score with both feet with ease.
Could he be Bayern’s solution at the striker position? Could he also become Germany’s solution to their long-lasting striker problem (that originated after the retirement of Miroslav Klose)? He’d be available for a cut-rate price of around 20 million euros, given that his contract expires in 2024. This is what appeals to me the most, coupled with his age and the fact that he’s German, which is a model favored by the Bayern brass.
It is true that we haven’t seen enough from the player to be certain that he’s Bayern quality, but it’s also possible that by the time we get to know, it might be too late and he might get snapped up by a European rival.
Andrej Kramaric, Lucas Alario
The stopgap options. Dependent, productive, and get the job done. Kramaric has been Hoffenheim’s go-to striker option for eternity, and he’s always turned up aces and spaces for them. Definitely not a game-changing solution at striker, but can definitely hold the fort down and produce the goods up front till Bayern is able to line a better option up. Of course, maybe the club isn’t that desperate yet, but if a Lewandowski exit materializes, and the club is unable to land an adequate replacement in time, the Bayern brass may be strapped for choices.
Leverkusen already has a top striker in Patrik Schick, but this has meant that Alario, another excellent striker, has found himself on the outside looking in. He definitely won’t be happy with sporadic minutes as a substitute and may look for a more stable role elsewhere. Of course, it’d be tricky to pick between him and Choupo, since there doesn’t seem to be a huge gulf in quality between the players. However, when Alario gets going, he can be very consistent, and he’d be a reliable stopgap option for a year or two till we can select Lewandowski’s next true successor.
And that brings us to the end of this list. Of course, there may be many strikers out there that I didn’t include, but I suppose these were the players that caught my eye, due to the fit with the squad and the formation, the style of play, the price, and several other factors.
Which of these players would you like to see at Bayern? Have any other striker suggestions/shots? Do let us know in the comments!