“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.
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.”
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.”
David Alaba also had the pleasure of working under Heynckes, although it was Louis van Gaal who gets the credit for shaping the Austrian into the all-round talent we see today.
“Even if he thinks differently, he is a left-back,” the Dutchman said after calling up the then 17-year-old midfielder from the reserves and playing him at left-back in a Bundesliga win over Freiburg in March 2010. “He’s not good, he’s very good.”
Van Gaal was one step ahead of the game, but Alaba’s progress was curtailed by an ankle injury and his first-team prospects suffered as a result. A loan deal with ambitious Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim made perfect sense.
“Alaba did not really get much action in the first team with us,” Van Gaal told German tabloid Bild in spring 2011. “This is what he is getting at Hoffenheim. This will aid his development massively. He’s a great talent. That’s why I think we’ll take him back.”
Alaba duly delivered on his potential during a formative six-month stint in Sinsheim and, by the end of the ensuing campaign, had nailed down a regular spot in the Bayern starting line-up. The rest is history.
“He’s just incredible, he’s just … wow,” enthused former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, having deployed ultra-malleable Alaba at left-back, centre-back and in central midfield during his three-year spell at the helm. “He can play absolutely everywhere. He’s a future all-time best in the club’s history.”
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.