With Bayern Munich having wrapped up the German title in record-breaking fashion, whilst also being serious contenders for the UEFA Champions League—not to mention being the favourites to claim the German Cup at the end of May, albeit with a semifinal still to navigate—it seems almost ludicrous that the Bavarian club should already be looking toward the summer transfer window and how to strengthen what is already one of world football's most powerful squads.
Nonetheless, ahead of Jupp Heynckes' departure and the arrival of Pep Guardiola, there's been a host of speculation about the summer plans of FC Hollywood, and particularly which star forward they hope to entice to Munich.
Supposedly, Guardiola will be handed a considerable war chest, according to the Daily Mail, from the powers that be at Bayern with which to add true star quality to an already fearsome roster, and it's believed that a centre-forward—despite the presence at the Allianz Arena of Mario Mandzukic, Mario Gomez and Claudio Pizarro—is the No. 1 priority.
The likes of Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, Borussia Dortmund hitman Robert Lewandowski, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and Santos prodigy Neymar have all been mooted; but who of that quadruplet would be the best fit for the newly crowned Bundesliga champions?
The Uruguayan international has been the scourge of opponents in the Premier League this season, scoring 22 goals to top the goalscoring charts, whilst putting in consistently outstanding performances which have been a key reason as to why Liverpool retain any kind of chance at European football next season.
Skillful, hard-working, an all-round nuisance to defenders and just downright talented, Suarez has been heavily linked with a move to Germany, (indeed it's been said that Guardiola himself favours a move for El Pistolero above all others, according to Alan Nixon of the Mirror) and the player himself has "welcomed" interest from European football's elite clubs (h/t Ian Herbert of The Independent).
Throw in the lure of Champions League football and a starting role with perennial challengers at Europe's top table, and $60 million-rated Suarez will surely be tempted, despite a contract at Anfield that runs until 2018.
Star striker of Bayern's nearest challengers in the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski's stock has continued to rise during the 2012/13 campaign, with Jurgen Klopp's side having thrilled Europe with some wonderful performances in the Champions League.
Lewandowski is a cool finisher with either foot, decent in the air and one of world football's best purveyors of the art in playing as a lone striker, as 21 league goals will testify.
With a contract that runs out in 15 months time at the Westfalenstadion, Dortmund have been tipped to sell for a figure in the region of $40 million this summer, rather than waiting to for Lewandowski to leave for nothing in 2014.
Throw in to the mix claims that the striker has already agreed personal terms with Bayern (via Livio Caferoglu of Goal.com), and it isn't hard to imagine the Polish international making a switch which would both strengthen the Bavarians and weaken one of their main rivals.
Manchester United's No. 10 has somewhat had his nose put out of joint this season, having witnessed Robin van Persie become the main man at Old Trafford.
Nonetheless, the England international remains one of world football's premier talents and is greatly admired by Bayern's soon-to-be manager who once described him as "one of the greatest players in the world" (The Sunday Times).
With tremendous technique, fabulous vision and an ability to score a variety of different types of goals, it's little wonder that Bayern and Guardiola would be interested in Rooney if he were available.
However, it's a very big if, and any prospective move will inevitably come down to the desires of not just the player, but more importantly the English club's autocratic manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Having seen the progression a certain four-time Ballon d'Or winner named Lionel Messi made under Guardiola at Barcelona, it would make a whole lot of sense were Bayern to make overtures toward the Brazilian phenom Neymar this summer.
The Santos prodigy has been outstanding for his club over a sustained three-year period, which has seen him lift South America's biggest titles, but now questions are being asked as to whether he and his repertoire of dribbles, skills and nerveless finishing can do it at the highest level in Europe against the world's best defenders.
Nonetheless, given the way in which Guardiola helped to guide Messi and encouraged him to flourish in the "false-nine" role at Barcelona, perhaps a move to Bayern and the opportunity to work with Guardiola would be the perfect aid for the 21-year-old's development.
All four of the aforementioned are magnificent players in their own right, each with his own strengths and particular playing style which each would have to temper/adapt to fit in with the current setup at Bayern.
However, the true fact of the matter is that, regardless of the German champions' current approach, Pep Guardiola may wish to take a very different path, tactically, than that which has been a staple of Jupp Heynckes' reign.
Nevertheless, the similarities in Heynckes' Bayern and Guardiola's Barcelona—short and quick vertical passing, high pressing, inverted wingers—are noticeable.
Therefore, the movement and ability to engage an entire back line, allied to his technical ability should perhaps make Luis Suarez the No. 1 pick for Guardiola this summer, as the Uruguayan ranks above the three peers mentioned here, whilst his goals/assists output also places him as a cut above the current No. 9 in Bavaria, Mario Mandzukic.
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