Bayern plan to ditch ageing stars in wake of European exit

Berlin (AFP) – Bayern are back on top of the Bundesliga, but club bosses plan to clean out their ageing squad whose shortcomings were brutally exposed by Liverpool in the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds dumped Bayern out of Europe on Wednesday with a deserved 3-1 return-leg win, handing Bayern a last-16 aggregate defeat by the same margin, at the Allianz Arena.

“Bayern urgently need radical change to still challenge for titles,” Germany’s daily Bild said — the lineup which lost to Liverpool had an average age of 30.

German pundits agreed with ex-Bayern coach Louis van Gaal who late last year said senior club bosses had “failed to renew the squad.”

Bayern had no answers as Sadio Mane took advantage of a mistake by 32-year-old Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to score the opener from a near-impossible angle before Liverpool defender Joel Matip netted an own goal to put the hosts level.

Virgil van Dijk killed Bayern’s hopes with a crisp header before Mane again breached the defence late on from a Mohamed Salah chip, leaving Bayern coach Niko Kovac to concede his side deserved to lose.

Robert Lewandowski, 30, the Bundesliga’s top-scorer in 2018/19, failed to score for the seventh straight match in the knock-out stages of Europe, complained that Bayern were “too defensive”.

For the first time since 2011, the Bavarian giants have failed to make the Champions League quarter-finals.

As Kovac glumly admitted, the German Cup and Bundesliga — at home to mid-table Mainz on Sunday — are their focus now.

– Future targets –

A clean-out is coming anyway as wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, both 35, plus Brazilian right-back Rafinha, 33, are out of contract in June.

“So it’s only right that Bayern attack again with Hernandez, Pavard, Hudson-Odoi and Werner,” continued Bild, specifying the players it feels Bayern need.

France’s World Cup-winning defender Benjamin Pavard, 22, has already signed to join Bayern from Stuttgart next season.

Bayern have reportedly made three offers for Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, 18, and are determined to get the England Under-19 forward.

Another potential target, Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid, would partner the imposing Niklas Suele at centre-back, meaning a pair of 23-year-olds replacing Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, who are both now 30.

“Hummels and Boateng are prone to injury. Lucas, however, is a lot younger, so this transfer would make a lot of sense,” said ex-Germany midfielder and Sky pundit Lothar Matthaeus.

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