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Bayern Munich: Max Eberl joins board

Chuck Penfold
February 27, 2024

Max Eberl is to take over as Bayern Munich's board member for sport. The move, which has been on the cards for years, was confirmed at a meeting of the club's supervisory board. But who is he and what has he achieved?

Max Eberl while at Leipzig in August 2023
Max Eberl is onto his third Bundesliga clubImage: Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON/picture alliance

Faltering Bayern Munich have confirmed in a statement that former Borussia Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl will take over as the board member for sport in a boardroom shakeup. He has signed on until June 2027.

Media reports say Bayern are set to pay a compensation fee of €4.5 million to Leipzig, where he remained under contract despite being relieved of his duties last September.

In hindsight, it's a move that seems to have been coming for quite some time.

"I spent my entire childhood and youth at FC Bayern and in Munich, so it’s something special for me to return in a new role to the club where it all began," Eberl explained. "Together with everyone here, I want to do everything I can to ensure that FC Bayern continues to be successful in the future and brings joy to its fans." 

Even years before he stepped down as managing director of sport at Mönchengladbach in early 2022, Eberl's name seemed to come up in the media whenever a change in the hierarchy was in the air at his boyhood club, Bayern. However, in public, he would consistently profess his loyalty to the club where the former defender finished his Bundesliga playing career. 2016 was a case in point.

"This is purely a media issue," the then 42-year-old said when asked by German broadcaster Sky about rumors of a possible move to Bavaria.

"Football doesn't work in the subjunctive. I'm focused here and now. For me, that's Borussia Mönchengladbach."

On the other hand, though, he conceded that in football, one could "never rule out what might happen" in the future and that he was "flattered" to be mentioned in the same sentence with Bayern.

Homecoming three decades in the making

By then, Eberl had taken a club that had become a perennial relegation candidate, occasionally dropping down into Bundesliga 2, into a perennial candidate for Europe. That included their first appearance in the Champions League (in its current format) in 2015. It was this success that will have drawn the attention of Bayern's board, but until now, nothing had come of it.

Now, though, it will be very much a homecoming for the 50-year-old, who made his debut as a player in the Bundesliga for Bayern after playing all of his youth football at the club.

That match, a 3-2 defeat in Stuttgart in 1991, would be Eberl's last in the Bundesliga for Bayern. However, he did go on to make over 200 appearances, split almost evenly between the Bundesliga and the second division for Bochum (1994 to 1997), Greuther Fürth (1997 to 1998) and Mönchengladbach (1998 to 2005).

Shaping a new era of success

At Gladbach, he would stay after hanging up his boots, rapidly climbing up the management ladder. He first joined the front office as a youth coordinator at the club in 2005 before gaining promotion to sporting director three years later. In 2010 he rose to the post of managing director of sport.

It was in this position that he would really put his stamp on the club. With Gladbach in danger of relegation in early 2011, Eberl replaced head coach Michael Frontzeck with then-little-known Swiss coach Lucien Favre, who managed to save the club from the drop by finishing 16th and beating Bochum in the 2010-11 relegation playoff.

This marked the beginning of Gladbach's most successful era since the legendary "Foals" of the 1970s (five Bundesliga titles, a German Cup and two UEFA Cups). In addition to Champions League qualification in 2015, the team made two appearances in the Europa League.

Max Eberl at a press conference while at Gladbach in 2022
Max Eberl said he quit Gladbach because of stressImage: Revierfoto/dpa/picture alliance

It was also during this era that Eberl oversaw the signings of a number of youngsters who would go on to international stardom, including Germany goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, who moved to Barcelona in 2014, and Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka, who returned to the Bundesliga with Leverkusen last year following several campaigns at Arsenal.

However, the Eberl era came to an abrupt end in January 2022. With the ink on a contract extension until 2026 hardly dry, Eberl announced that he was stepping down from his post at Gladbach due to exhaustion.

"I have to draw a line. I have to get out. I have to take care of the human being," a tearful Eberl said.

Formally, his contract in Mönchengladbach was terminated in September 2022.

Short-lived stint in Leipzig

In December 2022, though, in a move that surprised many, Eberl was back, not at a venerable old club such as Gladbach but at relative newcomers RB Leipzig, reviled by fans who object to what they see as a single concern in this case Red Bull, bankrolling Bundesliga success. There, he was reunited with head coach Marco Rose, who he had brought to Gladbach in 2019. Four years later, Rose – with Eberl as his managing director, led RB Leipzig to German Cup glory.

However, Eberl's stay at RB, where he had signed a contract until 2026, was cut short a few months later. In September, shortly before RB Leipzig were to face Bayern, the club's management announced that it was parting ways with its managing director of sport.

The reason RB Leipzig's management gave for the decision was a "lack of commitment" to the club. This came amid media speculation that he had secretly been in talks with Bayern, who had been without a board member for sport since sacking Hasan Salihamidzic last May.

Christoph Freund had been brought in as sporting director yet the Bavarians wanted a football-savvy executive above him on the board too.  But Bayern being behind Eberl leaving Leipzig was categorically ruled out by the club's president, Herbert Hainer.

"The exit of Max Eberl from RB Leipzig has absolutely nothing to do with Bayern Munich," he said.

A lot can change in the space of four months.

Edited by Mark Meadows