Sanches, Gnabry and Bayern Munich's fail-safe guide to parenting
Renato Sanches' season-long loan move to Swansea is right up there with the best of them for deadline-day bombshells, but it is all part of a carefully laid plan at parent club Bayern Munich.
"Our goal was for Renato to gain regular match practice at club level in a strong league such as the Premier League," said Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "We remain convinced he has the potential to become an important player for FC Bayern in the future. For this reason, the agreement states that the player will return to FC Bayern on 1 July 2018 with no option to make the transfer permanent."
Bayern's ever-shrewd CEO sounded a similar note of encouragement after allowing summer signing Serge Gnabry to join Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim for the 2017/18 campaign – and with good reason. Why watch a player - supremely gifted at that - waste away on the substitutes bench when he could be gaining invaluable first-team experience elsewhere?
It is a sound piece of logic that has framed the careers of some of the club's brightest offspring.
Watch: Serge Gnabry's top five Bundesliga goals
Take Philipp Lahm. A product of the Bayern youth system, his immediate path to the first team was blocked by seasoned French full-backs Bixente Lizarazu and Willy Sagnol. Cue a two-year detour with Stuttgart.
"I don't see it as a bad thing that FC Bayern loaned me out, but rather as praise," Lahm said shortly after making the short journey from Bavaria to Baden-Württemberg in summer 2003. "They didn't want to sell me, because they are counting on me."
And so it proved. Lahm returned to Bayern in 2005, and before long morphed into the face - and captain - of Germany’s most successful club. He hung up his boots 12 years later, having won eight Bundesliga titles, six DFB Cups, the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
"I tried to convince him to stay, but I couldn't," admitted Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti. "He's had a fantastic career."
Watch: Philipp Lahm brought the curtain down on a trophy-laden career in May 2017
Toni Kroos is another star name to reap the long-term reward of Bayern's exacting approach to parenting. Although the Rostock-born midfielder became Bayern's youngest-ever player in the Bundesliga when he made his debut in a 5-0 win against Energie Cottbus on 26 September 2007, aged 17, it was at Bayer Leverkusen where he truly came of age.
Farmed out to Die Werkself on an 18-month deal, Kroos honed his trademark passing game under the watchful eye of Jupp Heynckes, the self-same man who would later steer Bayern to an unprecedented Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Cup treble.
Kroos was an integral part of that decorated class of 2012/13, much as he was the Germany side which Bayern team-mate Lahm captained to 2014 World Cup glory. Three seasons at current employers Real Madrid have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most complete midfielders of his generation.
"He is 27 and has won a trio of Champions League titles, a treble with Bayern Munich and a World Cup," said Kroos' former mentor Heynckes of the first German player to win the Champions League three times. "He should retire."
There are many that fall into that category - Sanches and Gnabry very much included. Loan moves may appear like tough love in the interim, but if the precocious duo can replicate the success stories of Lahm, Kroos and Alaba away from the expectant glare of the Allianz Arena, Bayern will be laughing. The wardens of the German south only want what is best for their young, after all.
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