Why Bayern Munich Will Rue Not Signing a Striker During the Transfer Window

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Thomas Mueller of Bayern Muenchen looks on during the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

As the transfer window closed on Monday night to the flutter of excitement and drama that only English football could perform so well, Munich settled in for a quiet night in front of the fire with its favourite book. For Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich were content with their squad, having done their business months in advance, and had no time or patience for the crazy nature of this football tradition. 

The simple fact of the matter was that Bayern and Guardiola had been planning out this preseason for quite some time, and as we saw with the acquisition of Mario Goetze just days before the Champions League final in May, the club wasted no time in plucking their preferred players from across Europe's top clubs. 

Yet as we now stand within the ringed-off garden of domestic football, the thought that immediately comes to mind is who else could Bayern have signed before the window closed. For as we look at the squad now, we turn back to Monday's free-for-all longingly and wonder if the Bavarian champions could have signed another striker. 

The initial reaction to such a claim is perhaps to question why Bayern would possibly need another striker. Yet when we take a hard look at the squad the Guardiola has before him and how he has set about using such players, it becomes rather obvious as to how shallow his depth in forward players truly is. 

Mario Goetze and Thiago Alcantara were both signed as attacking midfielders, with the German international specifically brought in to play as a traditional No. 10. As well as the possibility of playing up front as a false nine, in the same manner as he has done on limited occasions for the German national team.

Yet as we've quickly found out, this Bayern side are simply nothing like his Barcelona of old, and the concept of playing a small midfielder at the top of such a direct attacking formation simply doesn't make any sense. Not to mention Goetze's own inability to adjust to life in Munich as quickly as most would have hoped.

Thomas Muller is another candidate from midfield who one would have happily consider as a lone striker prior to Guardiola implementing his system on the side. Under Jupp Heynckes last season Muller played as a No. 10 in the latter stages of the season, following Toni Kroos' injury, often playing off Mandzukic as a secondary striker. Yet as we've seen in the Bundesliga campaign thus far, Guardiola is much more comfortable keeping Muller further back the pitch within the flat four formation in midfield.

Even if push came to shove and Guardiola was forced to play Muller as his sole striker, it would be surprising if the player actually thrived in such a position. The young German prodigy has an excellent eye for goal, but such goals were usually scored from deep runs from either midfield or out wide. Muller has never been a complete striker and would never properly function as the poacher-turned-playmaker that Guardiola's formation so desperately needs. 

Mario Mandzukic on the other hand is an out-and-out striker, in fact he's the only formidable forward at the club. Yet despite scoring 25 goals last season and playing a key part in Bayern's treble of trophies, there was always Mario Gomez on the bench just waiting for his chance to regain the solitary spot that was once his. 

Although we can't criticise the club for allowing Gomez the opportunity to move to Fiorentina, were he looks to be thriving with two goals in as many games so far this season, it does seem odd that nobody was brought in to replace him. If not to make up for the goals he so readily scored, but for the simple fact of having another player who can play up front. 

This competition was a key factor in Heynckes' ploy to get the best out of both strikers, by effectively pitting them against one another and proving an excellent example as to how direct competition can bring the best out of any player. 

This season such competition simply does not exist. While we were all doing our best to articulate Guardiola's plans in the midfield as he continued to bolster with Goetze and Thiago Alcantara, little attention was paid to the diminishing ranks of the forward line. Bayern Munich have a thin front line, and we're only just beginning to realise that. 

Of course, such a conversation is built upon a foundation of ifs and buts, yet it does stand to reason that if Mario Mandzukic were to pick up a long-term injury, the current champions of the German Bundesliga and European Champions League would have no more than 34-year-old Claudio Pizarro to take his place. A potential disaster Guardiola could have avoided by simply signing another striker.