‘Kim+Baran’ Wallace combination? Well…Munich internal discussions → 500 million share price + AC Milan love affair stalled

November 23, 2023 | by

Bayern Munich have been eyeing world-class center back Raphael Varane (Manchester United) as a defender to take the pressure off Kim Min-jae. However, it is unclear whether the Bavarians will keep Varane, as he is said to prefer a move to Italian giants AC Milan.

“Manchester United’s unhappy center back Raphael Varane has been linked with German giants Bayern Munich,” the Daily Mail reported on April 22.

Born in 1993, Varane was a world-class defender who was a key center back for Real Madrid and the French national team during his prime. A vice-captain of the French national team, he was a member of the 2018 World Cup winning squad in Russia and won 20 trophies with Real, including four UEFA Champions League titles.

After spending the prime of his career at Real, Varane made his Premier League debut in the summer of 2021 when he joined United for £42 million. Now in his third year at the club, Varane has made 75 appearances in all competitions.

Although he has struggled to stay healthy and play full-time in each of the seasons since joining the Red Devils, Varane was part of United’s starting center back pairing in 2022/23 alongside Argentine defender Lissandro Martinez. With the duo anchoring the backline, United finished third in the Premier League last season and won the League Cup, their first trophy in six years.

However, after the start of his third season in 2023/24, Baran’s position changed. A regular starter since the start of the season, Varane was increasingly starting games from the bench, losing out not only to Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, but also to 35-year-old veteran defender Jonny Evans. In United’s last eight games, Baran has started just one.

The loss of the starting spot has led some to suggest that a rift has developed between Baran and United manager Eric Dier. When he left Baran out of the starting lineup for the Manchester derby against Manchester City in the 10th round of the league, Mourinho responded by saying that he was “playing Maguire and Evans for tactical reasons,” which reportedly angered Baran, who was left out of the squad for a crucial game.

“Baran is understood to be unhappy with Van Gaal’s decision to leave him out of the Manchester derby squad for tactical reasons and his choice of Evans to partner Maguire,” Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail reported on social media.

Of course, there are those who defend Mourinho’s choice, arguing that Baran’s inconsistent performances since joining United have played a role in his selection.

Rene Moulestin, a former assistant to Alex Ferguson at United, told ESPN in October, “United have a few problems. “The Premier League is dynamic, everything happens at 100 kilometers per hour,” he said, pointing to Varane’s mobility.

He’s still only 30 years old, but his frequent injuries have reduced his agility, and he can’t keep up with the quick transitions in the Premier League’s offense. In addition, Baran’s overall game, not only in terms of speed, but also in terms of physicality and positioning, is not as good as it was last season.

With Baran, once a world-class defender, dropping down from United’s first-choice center back to a fourth option, speculation of a move began to surface ahead of the January winter transfer window. A number of big clubs have already shown interest in signing the former world-class defender.

Bayern Munich, who are currently in desperate need of reinforcements on the defensive side of the ball, have been particularly interested in Baran. The Bavarians are reportedly looking to strengthen their center back and sixth midfield positions in the winter transfer window.

“The Bavarians have discussed internally the possibility of bringing Varane to the Elianz Arena,” said a source cited by Sky Sports Germany, adding that Varane could leave for a small fee of between €20-30 million (approximately $284-425 million), which seems like a bargain for the experienced defender.

“The only stumbling block would be his £340,000-a-week wages, which make him United’s highest paid player,” he added, suggesting that Baran’s high salary could be a deal breaker. Baran would therefore need to take a pay cut if he wants to move to Munich.

If Varane does end up in a Munich shirt in the winter, he could be paired with South Korean defender Kim Min-jae. It would also give Kim some breathing room after his recent hot streak.

Munich started the 2023/24 season with just three first-team center backs – Kim Min-jae, Dayo Upamecano, and Matthias Düricht. After the opening day, Diricht and Upamecano suffered season-long injuries, leaving Kim Min-jae, the only healthy center back, to play the entirety of every game without rest. By the time the A-League schedule began in November, Kim had played a whopping 14 games in a row.

Munich also recognized the shortage of center backs and decided to make a move in the winter transfer window, especially since Kim will be participating in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in January 2024. If the South Korean national team makes it all the way to the final on Feb. 11 in the Asian Cup, which starts on Jan. 12, 2024, Munich will have to play up to five games in the league (Hoffenheim-Werder Bremen-Augsburg-Borussia Mönchengladbach-Bayer Leverkusen) without Kim.

However, it is believed that Munich will have to win a fierce battle to sign Varane. The highly regarded defender is currently receiving offers from all over the world.

Italian Serie A giants Juventus, AC Milan, and AS Roma are also interested in signing him, while Saudi Arabia’s Al Nasr, a club that collects world-class soccer stars, has been touted as one of his next destinations. A move to Al Nasr would reunite Baran with Cristiano Ronaldo, who he played alongside at Real during the club’s heyday.

Of these, AC Milan, who reached the Champions League semifinals last season, is reportedly Baran’s favorite destination, which means competition for Munich.

“Baran is favoring a move to Italy’s Serie A if he leaves United,” The Sun reported on April 22. Baran would like to prove himself in Serie A, where defenders are known to be highly regarded. A move would likely happen slowly in the summer, rather than next January, as Munich would like. “Varane will have to be patient,” says TeamTalk. United have no intention of letting him leave in the winter transfer window.”

If Varane remains aloof from a move to Munich, the Bavarians will be forced to turn to other defenders. It’s not unlikely that they’ll turn their attention back to Eric Dier, who is recommended by Bayern’s star striker, Harry Kane.

According to Football Insider, “Munich are planning a ‘shock’ deal to sign Tottenham defender Dyer in the January transfer window. Dier is in the final six months of his Tottenham contract. And no progress has been made on a new deal.”

“Authoritative sources say Dier is likely to leave the club either in January or on a free transfer next summer. Munich are keen to sign the versatile Dyer, who can play both center back and defensive midfield.”

Dier is also attractive because he can play in the “number six” defensive midfield position, which Munich currently needs as much as a central defender.

“Munich are looking for reinforcements in the center back and midfield positions to ensure success in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. Dier is on their list. He could be available for a relatively cheap transfer fee.”

It’s not that Munich are short of defenders per se, but with injuries to Upamecano and De Ligt expected to keep them out for a while, they need someone who can play multiple positions at once, and Dyer fits the bill. Dier’s game has been improving of late, with the departure of Cristian Romero and the injury to Micky Vanderpenne giving him a chance to play again. It’s a good move for Munich.

However, Tottenham have also made it known that they don’t want to sell Dyer right away because they don’t know when Van der Penne will return. The idea is that a backup defender would have to come in to replace Dyer before they would let him go, whether to Munich or elsewhere.

The fact that Dyer is also being courted by Serie A is causing Munich headaches. Dier played under Jose Mourinho, who was in charge of Tottenham from 2019 to 2021. Mourinho is reportedly strongly wanted by Italian side AS Roma, where he is currently in charge.



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