Bayern Munich have made a big splash in the transfer market so far this summer, with Colombia star James Rodriguez joining France midfielder Corentin Tolisso, Hoffenheim duo Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Süle and the nascent Serge Gnabry in the Allianz Arena arrivals lounge.
The Bavarians swept to a record fifth consecutive Bundesliga title in Carlo Ancelotti's first season at the helm, but it was perhaps inevitable that they would go shopping with captain Philipp Lahm and midfield metronome Xabi Alonso retiring. Accordingly, the Bayern first-team will unavoidably beat to a different pulse in 2017/18. bundesliga.com takes a closer look…
Italian tactician Ancelotti has now picked up domestic titles in his native Italy, England, France, Spain and Germany. Although a versatile coach, the 58-year-old has nonetheless built most of those successful teams - AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid - on a 4-2-3-1 formation.
So what might Ancelotti change? Although Alonso and Lahm operated primarily in their own final third rather than their opponents', it is further forward where there is more to untangle. Robert Lewandowski plundered 30 goals last term and will continue to lead the line. Of Bayern's wide men, Robben was the most productive, with 13 goals and nine assists. Whilst Ribery and Müller proved deadly when called upon, expect it to be them who make way for former Real Madrid man James, who - despite being able to operate anywhere in the final third - prefers "to be closer to the goal; that works better for me. I can score and pass from there."
The next question is who will fill the Number 6 position vacated by Alonso? Rudy is a fine distributor of the ball, with his 32 one-twos last season the fourth-most in the Bundesliga. However, with Tolisso's subsequent arrival, only one can muscle into Bayern's magic midfield triangle with Thiago's and Vidal's places all but assured. It seems likely Vidal will drop deepest of the three - the Chile star scored nine goals in all competitions to Tolisso's 14 for Lyon in 2016/17 - though with he and Tolisso boasting such complete skill-sets, they could well alternate.