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Bayern Bargains Galore

DW staff (nda)January 26, 2007

The season is only half-way through and yet a number of Bayern Munich's midfielders are looking for new clubs. It would be okay if money was involved or the players were expendable -- but it's not and they aren't.

Hasan Salihamidzic (right): Yours for, well, nothing actuallyImage: AP

The management at Bayern Munich have consistently said that they are not a selling club. With crucial months ahead, in which the reigning Bundesliga champions will battle to retain their domestic title and face a tough two-leg Champions League tie with Real Madrid, the Bayern hierarchy have made it clear that their players are going nowhere.

Publicly, the Bavarian giants are showing a united front. But behind the scenes, and increasingly in the pages of the sporting press -- much to the dismay of the club -- a number of players are reported to be casting eyes away from the Allianz Arena to pastures new at a time when there are major trophies still to play for.

Midfielder Ali Karimi looks set to be the first to actually pack his bags after it was revealed that the 28-year-old Iranian international has all but sealed a return to former club Al Ahli Dubai before the end of the January transfer window on Tuesday.

Karimi out by February?

Ali Karimi
Ali Karimi's happy days at Bayern could be overImage: dpa

Karimi, who arrived on a free transfer from Al Ahli in 2005, has been told that when his contract with Bayern runs out at the end of the season, it won't be renewed. Karimi was expected to become an integral part of the Bayern midfield after the departures of Thorsten Frings and Michael Ballack but sporadic performances have since eroded the faith the club had placed in him.

Next on a plane out of Germany will be another midfielder, Hasan Salihamidzic. The 30-year-old Bosnian has signed a four year deal with Italian side Juventus and will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season when his contract runs out.

"The entire package is right," said Salihamidzic, who joined Bayern in 1998 from Bundesliga rivals SV Hamburg. "I can go abroad once again at 30 and experience something totally new."

Bosnian star heading for Turin

Hamburger SV vs. Bayern München
Juventus-bound: Hasan SalihamidzicImage: AP

Salihamidzic, who retired from international soccer last August, has made nearly 300 Bundesliga appearances for Hamburg and Bayern. He won the 2001 Champions League with Bayern as well as six league titles and four German cups.

With two central players heading for the exit without any fees coming into the club, Bayern face having to sell players to finance any purchases in the close season. The sale of one player that could start the recuperation could be that of prize-possession Owen Hargreaves, yet another midfielder looking to leave Bavaria.

Hargreaves has been at the center of a bitter transfer wrangle between Bayern and English Premiership leaders Manchester United since his impressive displays with England at the World Cup. The player himself angered his employers by actively and very publicly pursuing a move to Old Trafford while still under contract. Bayern responded by rebuking Hargreaves and slapping a 30-million euro price on his head.

Hargreaves a Red Devil by this summer?

Finale Ligapokal Bayern München - Werder Bremen Fußball
Owen Hargreaves looks destined for ManchesterImage: AP

United were hoping to capture Hargreaves at the start of the season but after coming up against the stone wall that is club manager Oli Hoeness, the Premiership club were said to be prepared to wait until January to make another move. In the meantime, Hargreaves broke a leg in September and the deal looked dead.

Now, with the midfielder back in training and Bayern relenting to a certain extent to the constant pressure from Manchester, it looks as though a fit Hargreaves could be heading to England in the summer.

If Hoeness and Bayern manage to get their asking price for Hargreaves, it would give their transfer kitty a much-needed boost. But having the funds is not the whole problem. Given the choice of where to go, players looking for a move favour Spain's La Liga, the English Premiership and Italy's Serie A over the Bundesliga. This could see Bayern miss out on the man they have ear-marked for the dominant role in their midfield.

Bayern dream of Ribery, Robben

WM 2006: Franck Ribery in Aktion Test-Länderspiel gegen China
Bayern want Franck Ribery. He may have other ideasImage: picture-alliance / dpa

Marseille's French international Franck Ribery, another who came out of the World Cup with his reputation greatly enhanced, is high on Munich's wish-list. But with Real Madrid, Arsenal and Juventus having made their admiration known, Ribery has the pick of top European clubs to choose from. Rumors also suggest that he could stay where he is.

Bayern have also allegedly offered Owen Hargreaves to English champions Chelsea in the hope of getting Dutch winger Arjen Robben in exchange but prising the 21-year-old flyer away from Stamford Bridge looks even less likely to happen than the Ribery transfer.

With a number of players leaving, Sebastian Deisler and Mehmet Scholl retiring and only Alemmania Aachen striker Jan Schlaudruff confirmed as coming in during the summer, Bayern will rapidly have to become a buying club to offset the departures they assure everybody won't be happening.