By Sam McGuire Football Whispers
After 10 trophy-filled seasons with German giants FC Bayern, Arjen Robben is calling time on his spell in Bavaria at the end of the current campaign.
Speaking to Omnisport, the Dutch flyer confirmed he would be moving on when his contract ends next summer: “This is my last season at Bayern. I had ten wonderful years. Now it's time.”
With half a season still left to play, Robben has the perfect opportunity to add to his 143 goals and 101 assists in 305 matches, as well as potentially adding another Bundesliga title to his cabinet to take his overall tally to eight. FC Bayern currently find themselves nine points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund but it’s not a deficit that can’t be overturned.
It’s no easy feat to replace such an iconic player but head coach Niko Kovač and the recruitment team at the Allianz Arena now have the best part of six months to plan for a Robben-less future. But who could the Bundesliga champions sign to fill the Robben shaped void?
FC Bayern are no strangers when it comes to raiding their rivals to secure the top talent in Germany. Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze all trod the same path of moving from North Rhine-Westphalia to Bavaria.
The Borussia Dortmund wonderkid, and newly appointed USMNT captain has just 18 months remaining on his current deal and recent reports in England have suggested he could be on the move in the summer.
Chelsea and Liverpool are both reportedly interested in acquiring the services of the 20-year-old but the opportunity to fill the No.10 jersey at FC Bayern might be too much of a tempting offer to turn down.
Though not identical in terms of playing style, both are direct wide forwards who are just as comfortable getting to the byline as they are cutting infield. Per the Football Whispers Lab, Robben has an xG90 (expected goals per 90 minutes) total of 0.30 this season compared to Pulisic’s 0.15.
The Borussia Dortmund attacker finished last season with an xG90 total of 0.25, showing he has what it takes to be a regular goal threat. However, it’s worth noting the Dutchman has 14 years on his young rival. With age and experience comes guile and consistency.
The Bayer Leverkusen youngster lit up the Bundesliga last term. He was involved in 18 Bundesliga goals, split evenly between goals and assists, and a number of his strikes are eerily similar to the ones usually associated with Robben.
The 21-year-old would turn on the afterburners to race clear of the backline. When fronted by the goalkeeper he’d keep his composure to calmly stroke the ball home with his trusty left foot.
Reports last January linked the Jamaican-born attacker with a move to Chelsea while Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United are all believed to be keeping tabs on the unpredictable forward. ESPN claimed FC Bayern tabled a bid for him in May but a move failed to materialize.
Bailey is everything Robben was and still is today: electric when given space to attack, explosive over short distances and a genuine, reliable, goal threat. It’s a bonus that he already knows the league.
It’s very fashionable for German clubs to have an English wonderkid on their books. Borussia Dortmund have Jadon Sancho. Hoffenheim have Reiss Nelson. If reports are to be believed, FC Bayern could soon have one too.
According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, who starred during the 2018 International Champions Cup (above), is a transfer target for the Bavarians.
It's claimed the 18-year-old is stalling on a new deal at Stamford Bridge and could be available for a knockdown price due to the fact he has just 18 months left on his deal.
First-team opportunities have been scarce for the youngster but the talent is there for all to see. Like compatriots Nelson and Sancho, the Bundesliga could be the perfect environment for Hudson-Odoi to thrive and with an all-star cast supporting him, he could flourish.
Serge Gnabry & Alphonso Davies
Or should FC Bayern stick with players they already have? Serge Gnabry netted both goals in the 2-1 win over former club Werder Bremen at the weekend and many believe he was signed to replace the ageing Robben and Franck Ribéry.
After a year on loan with Hoffenheim, he’s returned to Bavaria and looks as though he has a point to prove. So far this season, only seven attackers in the Bundesliga can better his 0.47 goals per 90 average while his 0.31 assists per 90 put him in the top ten.
Perhaps new signing Alphonso Davies is the man to fill the big boots of Robben. The 18-year-old shone brightest for Vancouver Whitecaps FC and his form convinced FC Bayern to pay a fee which could eventually rise to $22million.
Cut from the same cloth as Robben, he's got the potential to terrorize defenders in the Bundesliga for the next decade. But can the youngster manage the pressure of replacing such a global star?
There are some big decisions ahead for FC Bayern to make.