Football Features

Bayern flops or rejects who came good elsewhere

By CJ Smith

Published: 19:15, 29 April 2019

Bayern Munich are the unquestionable kings of German football and have launched countless careers to stardom over the years.

Iconic players such as Michael Ballack, Philipp Lahm and Lothar Matthaus have all donned the red of Bayern and gone on to win countless domestic and European honours.

However, for every Robert Lewandowski, there is a player who came to Bayern with a big reputation only to find their careers grinding to a halt in Bavaria.

Many struggle to recover from this kind of career stall, but there are some examples of players who have come back from their troubles in Munich to go on and show their true talent.

With that in mind, Squawka have prepared a list of eight players who proved their talent after they struggled at Bayern; read on to find out who they are.

1. Xherdan Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri showed Europe what he could do when he assisted both goals in FC Basel’s shock 2-1 Champions League win over Manchester United in 2011. By February 2012, Shaqiri had agreed on a £10.4m move to Bayern Munich, making his debut for the club in July.

However, the Swiss international really struggled to make his mark with the German club and only managed 52 Bundesliga appearances during his two-and-a-half years at the Allianz Arena. This lead to Shaqiri being loaned out to Inter Milan for the second half of 2014-15, before joining Stoke City on a permanent deal. The forward looked revitalised with the Potters and scored 15 Premier League goals in 84 appearances for the club between 2015 and 2018.

Although Shaqiri was unable to keep Stoke in the Premier League last season, he did earn a £13.5m move to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool last summer. The 27-year-old has six goals in 28 appearances for the Reds, including two in the 3-1 win over rivals Manchester United in December, and has been a useful member of Klopp’s squad, featuring as an attacking midfielder and winger earlier in the season.

2. Lukas Podolski

Lukas Podolski arrived at Bayern in 2006 as a prolific, exciting young goalscorer and had impressed a number of European giants with his 51 goals in 85 games at FC Koln. Furthermore, Podolski already had 12 goals to his name for the German national team; not bad considering he spent the 2004/05 campaign playing in the German second tier.

And while the goals kept on flowing for Die Mannschaft, Podolski just could not get into the groove for Bayern. Despite picking up a Bundesliga and German Cup double in 2007/08, the striker didn’t play a major role in this success and left Bayern to rejoin FC Koln with just 26 goals from 106 appearances. Granted, Podolski’s first season back at FC Koln was a struggle, scoring just three goals, but his next two campaigns yielded 32 strikes and earned another big move; this time to Arsenal.

Podolski won an FA Cup during his spell in north London and since then has won silverware with Galatasaray and ended his international career with 49 goals from 130 caps; winning the 2014 World Cup in the process.

3. Medhi Benatia

Medhi Benatia was absolutely fantastic during his one season with AS Roma in 2013/14, scoring five goals and helping the club finish second in Serie A, conceding just 25 goals; only champions Juventus (23) conceded fewer.

That prompted Bayern to spend £23.5m to bring Benatia to Germany in 2014, but the Moroccan international couldn’t get into the side ahead of the likes of Jerome Boateng and Dante during his time with the Bavarians, notching up just 29 league appearances for the club in two seasons.

Juventus came calling in 2016 and although he had to compete with the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli during his time in Turin, he provided a great option at the back for the Old Lady, helping them to two successive Serie A and Coppa Italia doubles; Benatia even scored two goals in last year’s Coppa Italia final as Juve crushed AC Milan 4-0 before heading off to Qatar in January.

4. Nils Petersen

Nils Petersen had smashed 25 goals in 33 German second division games for Energie Cottbus during the 2010/11 season, with then-Bayern manager Jupp Heycknes seeing him as the perfect challenge to Mario Gomez’s striking role at the club.

His one season at Bayern was a complete failure, though, as Petersen managed just two goals in 15 first team games across all competitions. Petersen left for Werder Bremen the next summer and now finds himself turning out for SC Freiburg.

Since leaving Bayern, Peterson has scored a highly respectable 92 goals in 213 club games, with this form helping him pick up his first two caps for Germany prior to the 2018 World Cup, although he was unfortunately left out of Joachim Low’s final squad.

Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.

5. Torsten Frings

Torsten Frings had been absolutely fantastic in helping Werder Bremen win the 1999 German Cup, as well as playing five consecutive seasons of European football with the club. Frings then scored 12 goals in a 63-game spell with Borussia Dortmund and formed a brilliant midfield partnership with Michael Ballack for the German national team.

With this in mind, Frings joining Ballack at Bayern Munich for the 2004/05 season should have been the most simple transition a footballer could hope to make. However, Frings lasted just one year at Bayern and although they did win the Bundesliga that year, there was a feeling that Frings hadn’t quite hit the heights expected of him.

Frings went back to Werder Bremen in 2005 and played another 231 games for the club, recapturing his true form and winning another German Cup with the club in 2009, before retiring in MLS with Toronto FC.

6. Miroslav Klose

Ok, so Miroslav Klose’s first two seasons at Bayern Munich weren’t that much of a struggle; Klose bagged a combined 41 goals in all competitions and helped the club win a league and cup double in 2008.

However, his following two seasons in Munich yielded just 12 goals and left most feeling like Klose was past his best.

They couldn’t have been more wrong though, as the former Werder Bremen man moved to Italian giants Lazio in 2011 and notched up 63 goals in 170 appearances – a highly impressive tally for someone who joined the club at the age of 33. These goals helped the Italian capital club win the 2013 Coppa Italia, while Klose finished his international career in 2014 with a fantastic 71 goals in 137 caps, winning the 2014 World Cup and becoming the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer with 16 goals.

7. Mats Hummels

No need to adjust your screens or reach for your glasses; that does indeed say Mats Hummels.

The 2014 World Cup winner actually came through Bayern Munich’s youth system and found himself unable to break into the first team before Borussia Dortmund took him on loan in 2008. Hummels soon made the move permanent and was a huge success with Dortmund, making over 300 appearances for the club and helping Jurgen Klopp to capture two Bundesliga titles and reach the 2o13 Champions League final, eventually losing to Bayern.

The Munich giants came back for Hummels in 2016, parting with £31m for a player they had brought through their own academy and sold for just £3.6m eight years earlier.

8. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg seemed to spend an age being a highly-rated youngster at Bayern before finally getting a real first-team breakthrough with loan spells at Augsburg and Schalke between 2015 and 2016. Although he was never given an opportunity at Bayern following that, Hojbjerg did seal a move to Southampton in 2016, where he has really come into his own.

This season especially, Hojbjerg has excelled on the south coast, playing more successful passes (1,686) and having more touches of the ball (2,217) than any other Southampton player; the Denmark international also scored a stunning goal in the Saints’ 2-2 draw with Brighton earlier in the season.

With his mobility, work-rate and excellence in the tackle, Hojbjerg has been perfectly suited manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s all-action, high-pressing style.