Central midfield has long been one of Bayern Munich's greatest strengths.
With players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, ThiagoAlcantara and recently Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso among their ranks, the Bavarians have been the envy of Europe with their class and depth in the center of the park.
Yet as it stands, Bayern now need to add options to strengthen their midfield in order to stay ahead of the curve.
According to Spox (in German, citing Kicker), Bayern have decided to release Serdar Tasci, Medhi Benatia, Pierre Hojbjerg and Mario Gotze, while Sebastian Rode wishes to leave the club as well. The publicationalso claimed earlier in May that Thiago's future is unclear.
Among the aforementioned players, Hojbjerg, Rode and Thiago are all central midfielders. And despite his great performances in 2015-16, fellow central midfielder Xabi Alonso turns 35 this fall and may not be the most reliable player for too much longer.
There are apparently at least two vacancies in the Bayern midfield waiting to be filled, with potentially two more possible.
Happy 26th birthday to Miralem Pjanic!He's scored more free kicks (8) than any other Serie A player since 2013/14. — Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 2, 2016
Happy 26th birthday to Miralem Pjanic!He's scored more free kicks (8) than any other Serie A player since 2013/14.
Bayern did well to sign Renato Sanches recently, and the youngster will surely be counted upon despite only turning 19 years of age this August.
Joshua Kimmich, who performed excellently in a variety of positions over the past season, will also provide quality depth in midfield. The 21-year-old seems in effect to be a ready-made replacement for Hojbjerg as the up-and-coming midfielder used in rotation.
Still, that leaves Bayern's central midfield a bit short of depth. Vidal is a lock for a starting role, but his aggressive nature and willingness to tackle always puts his fitness somewhat in danger. Thiago didn't exactly turn heads in 2015-16 and may leave in any case. Alonso's age casts inevitable doubts over his viability in a long campaign. And although the future for both Kimmich and Sanches seems to be bright, the duo are still young and well short of peaking.
Bayern could take a chance and hope for the best with their current options, which would be envied by almost all of Europe. Their midfield depth really is excellent, and a couple levels above that of the rest of theirBundesliga rivals.
But if Bayern want a more firm guarantee that they will be competitive among the elite midfields they will face in the UEFA Champions League, another proven star would be highly useful. Enter Miralem Pjanic.
Pjanic is a quality player who could add class to the midfield of many teams in Europe, and it's no wonder that Gazzetta dello Sport(h/t Calciomercato) claims that Bayern, Juventus and Barcelona are all in a bidding war to win the AS Roma man's signature.
At 25 years of age, the Bosnian is still relatively young, yet he offers experience and maturity beyond Sanches and Kimmich.
Bayern need only to look at last summer's signings to see the difference: Kingsley Coman, also a 19-year-old, had a great season yet didn't manage to have as great an impact as Douglas Costa, who turned 25 in September.
Corriere dello Sport: The agent of Roma's Miralem Pjanic was personally invited by #FCBayern to watch Saturday's #DFBPokal final in Berlin.— Bundesliga Spotlight (@BundesligaSpot) May 23, 2016
Corriere dello Sport: The agent of Roma's Miralem Pjanic was personally invited by #FCBayern to watch Saturday's #DFBPokal final in Berlin.
In terms of fitting in the Bayern midfield, Pjanic is exactly the type of player the Bavarians have looked to in recent years.
Like Alonso and Thiago, he's not particularly physical and won't offer much in terms of ball-winning and defensive coverage. Yet like the Spanish duo, he is a real master on the ball whose skills line up more or less like a hybrid version of the pair.
Pjanic is less of a regista than Alonso, but not so much a playmaker asThiago. He's less likely to dribble than Thiago but offers better mobility and control in driving the ball forward than Alonso. He lacks the full extent of Alonso's passing range, but he is more precise in delivering the ball especially over long distances than Thiago.
Juninho even described the Roma man to L'Equipe (h/t ESPN) as the world's best free-kick taker last fall. And Pjanic is fully proficient with both feet.
Pjanic already has 67 caps for Bosnia and Herzegovina and has played at the World Cup. He spent four years with Metz and Lyon in Ligue 1 and now has five years of experience with Roma under his belt.
He's earned the step up to one of the world's greatest clubs, and interest from such giants as he's alleged to have garnered is a fine endorsement of his quality. Bayern would do well to sign him.