Even though Bayern Munich landed the Bundesliga’s record signing in England captain Harry Kane, there’s still a big hole in the squad.
Kane has taken on the No. 9 shirt previously worn by Robert Lewandowski. That comes with the expectation of scoring goals by the dozen. The transfer fee — which could reportedly hit more than 100 million euros ($110 million) — adds to the pressure.
“I feel that responsibility. Whenever a club spends a huge amount of money on you, you feel like you have a responsibility to to repay that,” Kane said at his presentation on Sunday.
Kane’s time at Bayern started with a shock the day before when the team lost to Leipzig 3-0 in the German Super Cup — a largely ceremonial game between league and cup champions. Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel lambasted his players — not including Kane — saying they played “as if we’d done nothing” in the four weeks of pre-season.
Kane fills the gap that Lewandowski left at Bayern, but the search goes on for a goalkeeper, since Manuel Neuer could miss the entire first half of the season. He broke his leg skiing in December and underwent more surgery this month. Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen admitted Sunday that the club had tried and failed to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Chelsea. Real Madrid signed the Spanish goalkeeper on Monday, leaving Bayern to continue its search.
The 37-year-old Neuer hasn’t played since last year’s World Cup. Bayern had backup Sven Ulreich in goal for the loss to Leipzig.
The question is whether any new goalkeeper is planned as a stop-gap like the signing of Yann Sommer in January — he has since been sold to Inter Milan — or a more permanent replacement. Signing someone like David de Gea, a free agent since leaving Manchester United, could mean relegating Neuer to the bench permanently.
Tuchel also indicated that the squad needs a defensive midfielder. That could potentially mean even more transfer business at Bayern before the window closes on Sept. 1.
Besides Kane, new signings include defender Kim Min-jae from Italian champion Napoli, who made his debut as a substitute in the Super Cup. Fullback Raphaël Guerreiro from Dortmund and midfielder Konrad Laimer from Leipzig have both arrived on free transfers, and defender Lucas Hernández left for Paris Saint-Germain.
Kane is hoping to succeed where another big-name signing from the Premier League failed. Sadio Mané left Bayern earlier this month for Saudi Arabia after a single disappointing season following his arrival from Liverpool.
Last season at Bayern started with then-coach Julian Nagelsmann trying to do without a direct replacement for Lewandowski after the Polish striker departed for Barcelona following eight years and 344 goals for the club.
Nagelsmann tried to use Mané as part of a flexible forward line alongside the likes of Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman, but eventually resorted to deploying Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in a more standard center-forward role — Lewandowski-era tactics without Lewandowski.
When Nagelsmann was ousted in March, Tuchel was focused on the short term ahead of the expected overhaul in the offseason. Tuchel says players like Sané, Gnabry and Coman remain key to his plans.
“After the loss of Robert Lewandowski there was a shift of responsibility on their shoulders to score, maybe everyone expected them to score suddenly double figures, which did not happen from various reasons. There’s never one reason in football, there are a lot of reasons,” Tuchel said of them during Bayern’s pre-season tour of Singapore.
“In general I’m happy because the work ethic is good, I’m happy because the quality is anyway good but the work ethic is top and they work hard for the team. All of them are team players, all of them are reliable.”
Muddling through for another season is not good enough for Bayern, and dropping the Bundesliga title to Dortmund would be a seismic shock in German soccer.