Bundesliga Clubs Concludes Goalkeeper Carousel

The transfer saga is finally over. Bayern Munich has signed Yann Sommer in a deal worth around $9 million from Borussia Mönchengladbach. Gladbach, in turn, has used that money to sign Sommer’s replacement Jonas Omlin from Montpellier. Concluding a goalkeeper carousel that will have all sides emerge as winners.

“Yann Sommer is a valuable addition for us because he has a wealth of international experience and has already played in the Bundesliga for many years,” Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn said in a club statement. “He has everything required to contribute immediately to our success. We’re certain we can achieve our goals with Yann Sommer.”

The 34-year-old Swiss keeper has signed a contract until 2025, which pretty much eliminates any rumors that Sommer will be just a short-term solution bridging the gap for a summer move to Manchester United. The length of the contract could also have implications for the status of the current no.1 Manuel Neuer, who is out with a broken leg, suffered in a skiing accident.

By signing Sommer to a longer deal, the implication is that the club is getting ready for the eventuality that Neuer might take longer to return than at first anticipated. In fact, director of sport Hasan Salihamidzic pretty much applied that much in the statement released by the club on Thursday.

“We had to react after losing Manuel,” Salihamidzic said. “We have big goals this season that we want to achieve, and that’s why we’ve recruited Yann Sommer, who we regard as one of the best European goalkeepers. Yann is the long-time Swiss national team goalkeeper, has Champions League experience, is a ball-playing goalkeeper, and fits into our team very well with his ambition and character.”

For Sommer, in the meantime, the transfer is an unexpected opportunity. Suddenly, the 34-year-old has gone from a club that is, at best, fighting for a top-four finish to one of the biggest teams in European football. Bayern Munich is, by many metrics, the favorite to win the Champions League this spring and is pretty much guaranteed the German title every season.

“I’m very excited about the new challenge at FC Bayern. It’s a big, powerful club,” Sommer said. “We’ve played against each other many times—I know the enormous quality and aura of this club. I’m proud that I’m now a part of FC Bayern. We have some big challenges ahead of us.”

The first challenge will await this Friday when Bayern Munich faces RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. The Red Bulls had a slow start to the season, but since appointing Marco Rose they made ground up in the title race, and a win over Bayern could close the gap to just three points at the top of the table. Leipzig’s firepower will be an interesting test for Sommer, who is expected to start the game.

Internationally, Bayern Munich has been drawn against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Bayern did feel uncomfortable going into that matchup with an unproven goalkeeper, which is why they ultimately decided on Sommer. After all, whether this season is a success will ultimately depend on Bayern’s record in Europe and not in the Bundesliga.

Whether Sommer can step into the massive shoes left by Neuer remains to be seen. Stylistically, the Swiss keeper is a sweeper-keeper like Neuer, but Sommer is also significantly shorter than the German and does not have the same presence outside of the box. Either way, Bayern’s defense will have to adjust to the new situation.

But what about Gladbach? The Foals might be the biggest winner of the goalkeeper carousel. Unwilling to renew his contract, Sommer was set to leave on a free transfer this summer until Neuer got injured.

What followed was a masterstroke by Gladbach sporting director Roland Virkus. Virkus essentially forced Bayern into buying Gladbach’s replacement Jonas Omlin from Montpellier. “We believe we have found a very good solution by signing Jonas Omlin,” Virkus said in a club statement. “He is a very reliable goalkeeper who exudes confidence, is strong on his line, and is good with lui’s ball at his feet.”

In Omlin, Gladbach has not only found a replacement for Sommer but a potential upgrade, and the best part about it; they did not even have to pay his fee. Usually, Bayern makes their direct competitors weaker when they plug a top player from their squad; in this case, the opposite might have happened.

Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth

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