Max Eberl has arrived to great fanfare at Bayern Munich. - © IMAGO/Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON
Max Eberl has arrived to great fanfare at Bayern Munich. - © IMAGO/Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON

Max Eberl: Who is Bayern Munich’s new board member for sport?


When Bayern Munich announced Max Eberl as their new board member for sport at the end of February, the news was received across Germany as a significant coup for the reigning Bundesliga champions.

Allow to explain why his arrival could prove to be one of the club’s most important signings – on or off the pitch – in recent years.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, we kindly ask that you reserve judgement until you hear the full story. For while players are undoubtedly vital in producing the goods on the pitch, and coaches in guiding them, every club needs a chess player behind the scenes to anticipate and plan ahead; it is here that Eberl is the game’s Grand Master.

Eberl was all smiles at his official unveiling back at Bayern. - ALEXANDRA BEIER

Born in 1973, Eberl was part of Bayern’s youth academy from 1979 onwards. He spent 14 years at the club before leaving for Bochum at the age of 21 in 1994 having made just one Bundesliga appearance and four in the DFB Cup.

So while he may not have quite made the grade as a defender with the record Bundesliga champions, he nevertheless has the prized “Bayern gene” the club are eager to maintain in their ranks; officials and staff who have an intrinsic knowledge of how things are done at Säbener Straße and what is required to succeed.

It is why the likes of Hansi Flick, Miroslav Klose, Niko Kovač, Jürgen Klinsmann, Oliver Kahn, Martín Demichelis and Hasan Salihamidžić, to name but a few, all have, or have had, important roles at the club in recent years.

After spells at Bochum and Greuther Fürth as a player, Eberl went on to spend six seasons at Borussia Mönchengladbach, which is also where he hung up his boots in July 2005.

A fresh-faced Eberl (3rd r.), in a Bayern team alongside Steffen Effenberg (r.) on his one and only Bundesliga appearance for the Reds, on 19 October 1991. - Pressefoto Rudel/Herbert Rudel via

By that stage, he had already been planning ahead for his time as an ex-pro, having spent six months in the Foals’ youth academy. He remained there in a leadership capacity until becoming the first team’s sporting director in October 2008.

As far as origin stories go, it is the equivalent of Peter Parker in high school before getting bitten. Cue the second act where he transforms into a superhero.

For while he was at Gladbach, Eberl is credited with unearthing Marco Reus – itself enough to earn some serious street cred – as well as Granit Xhaka, Marc-André ter Stegen, 2014 World Cup winner Christoph Kramer and bringing the talents of Juan Arango to a wider audience.

And that was just in the first few years. Between 2011/12 and 2020/21 – his last full season at the club - the lowest Gladbach finished was ninth, while they also ended up third once, fourth three times and fifth once. For a team more accustomed to mid-table placings it was an astonishing feat to become regular UEFA Champions League participants.

Eberl welcoming a 19-year-old Granit Xhaka to Gladbach in 2012. - imago sportfotodienst

Eberl made headlines of a different kind in January 2022 when he revealed he was stepping down, citing mental health issues, and ultimately took a sabbatical for close to a year.

“There is no wounded pride, no frustration, none of that,” he said at an emotional and tearful press conference to announce his decision.

“I’m just exhausted and tired. I don’t have any strength left to do his job the way the club needs me to. The club tried everything to convince me to stay, they opened every door and offered me every opportunity to find time and peace. But I have to draw a line somewhere. I have to get out. I need to look after myself as a person. The greatest responsibility I have is to take care of my own health.”

Such raw honesty rightly earned him plaudits. And it is that self-same openness and approachability with players, their families and agents that are among his powers.

Watch: Eberl's emotional final press conference as Gladbach sporting director

That and his “fantastic network”, ability to “build a club”, “find solutions in difficult moments,” being an “expert in the transfer market” and the skill to “nurture talent” – all of which were reasons put forward by RB Leipzig when they announced the arrival of Eberl as their “dream candidate” as sporting director in December 2022.

It ended up being only the briefest of stints at the Red Bull Arena, with the two parting ways in September 2023, but not before he had helped Marco Rose’s side bring in Xavi Simons, Loïs Openda and Benjamin Šeško, all of whom have contributed significantly to Leipzig’s success this season.

You see where we're going with this. If Eberl has been able to sign the best of the best to his previous club, just imagine what he can do at Bayern.

Watch: Max Eberl's top 5 transfers

And so the Bavarian giants pounced, sensing their opportunity to hire someone with a proven track record of identifying, recruiting and polishing unknown gems as well as attracting big stars.

“It brings me great joy to come back home here after 30 years,” he said at his official unveiling at the Allianz Arena. There will be no gentle bedding-in period for Eberl though.

Eberl, who officially starts his new job on 1 March, has agreed a contract valid until 30 June 2027. - Alexander Hassenstein

With head coach Thomas Tuchel set to leave in the summer, the 50-year-old needs to move fast to line up a replacement.

“We need to find the right coach and the players that suit the coach,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of conversations and I’m sure we’ll find the right puzzle pieces for the 2024/25 season.”

If anyone can do it, rest assured it’s Max Eberl.