Though not the most heralded of names in the Bayern Munich squad, it could be argued that Sandro Wagner is the club’s most important transfer in recent seasons.
Wagner’s signing was a perfect fit for the player himself – he had just turned 30, was returning to the club where he emerged as a professional and can possibly look forward to lifting three trophies this term. Yet what he has given the club in return is what could be the most invaluable component in the equation.
So often reliant on the brilliance of Robert Lewandowski to lead the line on his own in recent seasons, Bayern now have a second, equally reliable, frontman to use as a platform for their attacking play. While he may not be as prolific in front of goal as the Pole, Wagner performs the other side of the game – hustling, harrying, holding the ball up and bringing teammates into play – just as well.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor,” says German football scout and pundit Lutz Pfannenstiel. “He’s always working hard, never giving the defenders a rest, talking to them to try and put them off. He’s a nightmare to play against but the type of guy you really want in your team.”
Watch: Wagner: "Lewandowski is the best striker in the world"
Furthermore, strikers are signed to score goals, and in addition to that cocky, natural competitive streak – Wagner recently declared himself “the best German striker” – he is delivering on the goalscoring front too. The rangy forward has netted seven goals in ten league appearances at an average of one every 67 minutes following his brace against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 30.
Crucially, that tally also includes six in six starts, which means Wagner plays his part, and more, when Lewandowski is given a rest. And with the former Borussia Dortmund man again enjoying another hugely productive season – he has 36 goals in all competitions, including 27 in 27 in the league – Bayern are making the most of having the luxury of two out-and-out strikers to spearhead the attack.