The dispute over the future of Alaba and Thiago is raging at Bayern. It should be about money, but that’s not the whole truth. | A column by Stefan Effenberg
When Uli Hoeneß gives an interview, there is always the danger that something like the one from last Sunday will come out: He called the advisor a ‘greedy piranha’ by Bayern’s David Alaba, Pini Zahavi (77), in the “one-two” at Sport 1 – and added fuel to the fire with his statements about the stagnant contract negotiations. Uli is Uli – and that’s a good thing. But of course his behavior doesn’t make the situation any easier. Neither for FC Bayern, nor for David Alaba.
The crucial phrase of Alaba
Instead, the dispute for the Bundesliga opener on Friday against FC Schalke (from 8.30pm in the live ticker on Chillreport) is now being played on the back of the player and not the adviser. And the player cannot tolerate everything. Because that’s not how you treat a player.
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Alaba’s decisive sentence then was this: “A few statements and reports from the past few weeks have puzzled and hurt me too.” Of course he mainly means Hoeneß. Alaba’s mind games will at least have received new nourishment. He will ask himself a few questions that he may have already seen answered: Does my club share the assessment of my worth? Do I have to think about change, because I have already achieved everything with FC Bayern?
It is not about two or three million euros
Now there is also the alleged requirement for an annual salary of more than 20 million euros. And that causes problems for Bavaria. Does the association respond to the claims and does it break through the salary structure? Then the advisers of the other players are at the door the same day and also demand more money. Or does the club stick to its offer and risk Alaba leaving the club after all?
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This is all the more annoying because in my opinion it is not about two or three million euros in annual salary, but about respect and appreciation. Just like with Manuel Neuer last time. After much back and forth, he extended his contract.
The Thiago case is similar
Will there be a happy ending at Alaba? You can doubt that in any case. The contract negotiations are definitely coming to a dead end – and Uli Hoeneß has made a major contribution to this.
In all these discussions I have to say: the whole rumbling gets on your nerves. The Thiago case is similar. A move to England has been debated and speculated for weeks after Bayern offered him a contract ready to be signed. It is legitimate to say you want to do something different. However, Thiago recently said again that he never said goodbye – and is currently training as if nothing happened.
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As a player I have to know what I want
I don’t know what games are being played, but it can’t be that hard to make a decision. As a player I need to know: do I want to stay with my club and renew it? Do I want to leave the club – preferably today? Or do I want to fulfill my contract and then try something new?
It usually took me five minutes to sign my contracts. Sometimes I didn’t have an advisor either. During the training camp, we sat in the hotel lobby to renew a contract with Bavaria. Then everything was signed.
The biggest sufferer is the trainer
This rumbling bug also gets on the nerves of the fans. And the biggest sufferer is coach Hansi Flick. He doesn’t know who he can really rely on this season or what his ashes will look like. They are not insignificant players, but very decisive players.
For Flick, a lot depends on Alaba or Thiago’s decisions – for example, whether and when he gets reinforcements.
Especially since the expectations for the season are enormous.
Even without Messi, Bavaria has plenty of construction sites
And that is exactly a problem. There is no higher level than that at which FC Bayern advanced in the final phase of last season and with which they won the triple. You can’t play better with Messi or Ronaldo either. On the contrary. Bayern did everything right by downgrading the efforts to convey Messi early on in the realm of fable. You have such a strong team. With Messi you destroy everything – the hierarchy, the reward structure. You have to be careful not to undermine all of this with a bank transfer.
And even without Messi, FC Bayern already has one or two construction sites – or even large construction sites.
BVB has incredible potential
That’s not the only reason why I certainly see the possibility that Borussia Dortmund can achieve something big and become a champion. Bavaria is of course still hungry and a top favorite too. But Dortmund has again made some excellent purchases, has two top stars with Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland and has also done everything right by retaining coach Lucien Favre. Marco Reus is fit again, which makes me very happy for him – and he will have the crystal-clear goal of becoming champion with BVB.
Back on the field: the last injured BVB captain Marco Reus. (Source: Laci Perenyi / Image Images)
In short: Dortmund has incredible potential. New addition Jude Bellingham is a great gem and not the first. Sancho, Haaland, Giovanni Reyna – no other club has so many talents to offer and therefore so much financial value.
So Bayern and Dortmund are likely to win the championship together – but what is the rest of the competition doing? I am extremely curious how Leverkusen will handle the departure of Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland – and Leipzig that of Timo Werner. Other big clubs will definitely have to look down: with Vedad Ibisevic and Goncalo Paciencia, FC Schalke has just two known newcomers, one of whom is still at 36 at the end of his career. Cologne is always a candidate for relegation and the newly promoted Stuttgart and Bielefeld will also compete for relegation.