REPORT: Manuel Neuer and Bayern Munich Embroiled in Contract Drama

MUNICH, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 09: Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich acknowledges the fans after the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and RB Leipzig at Allianz Arena on February 09, 2020 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

After months of negotiating, Bayern Munich and Manuel Neuer have yet to agree on a new contract. The German’s current contract at Säbener Strasse is set to expire after the 2020/21 season. An agreement between the two parties for a two or three-year extension seemed to be a formality until it was announced in January that up-and-coming goalkeeper Alexander Nübel would be joining Bayern this summer from Schalke 04.

Manuel Neuer and Bayern Munich Embroiled in Contract Drama

Bayern’s Manuel Neuer Contract Negotiations Are Not Going as Planned

Bayern’s leadership are playing a dangerous balancing act. On one side is succession planning. The club wants to prepare for the somewhat near future without the 34-year-old Neuer. The 23-year-old Nübel represents that future.

On the other side is the present. Bayern understands that Neuer is still their number one, club captain, and arguably Europe’s best goalkeeper, while Nübel is untested, having been Schalke’s number one for just over a year. Bayern are a club with immense pressure, and there is no evidence that Nübel can handle it. For the next two seasons, Bayern will need Neuer to continue their domestic dominance and challenge for the Champions League.

From sharing matches with Nübel, to how long and valuable the contract should be, the media speculation over the negotiations has been wild, bringing into question whether an agreement will be made at all.

Neuer’s Controversial Bild Interview

Speculation over Neuer’s Bayern future has been nonstop since January, but the heat got turned up a notch when the goalkeeper and his agent were interviewed by Bild am Sonntag last week.

The German lamented his disappointment with Bayern over the supposed leaking of confidential contract talks to the media. Kicker later reported that these apparent leaks have shattered Neuer’s relationship with Bayern, possibly stalling contract negotiations for weeks or even months. 

In the Bild interview, Neuer commented on the leaks: “What irritates me: all the talks that I have had here since 2011 were always conducted very confidentially. Nothing ever leaked outside. Now, though, details from the current talks are constantly to be found in the media, and they often are not even right. Of course, that annoys me. That’s not how I know FC Bayern.”

Neuer’s Wage Demands Are Reportedly Astronomical

Additionally, the goalkeeper and his agent denied earlier reports from Bild stating that they were demanding a five-year, €100 million contract. In five years Neuer will be 39, far removed from his prime. One must also wonder if Bayern will be happy with his successor Nübel playing a secondary role into his late twenties.

In terms of wage demands, €20 million a year would make Neuer the joint-highest paid Bayern player alongside Robert Lewandowski. The high asking price was reported by Bild to have been prompted by the rumoured wages of recent Bayern signings Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Hernandez. Both reportedly earn €20 million annually. If true, they show that Neuer is not only angry over the leaks and Nübel’s appearance guarantee but over the club’s wage hierarchy as well.

Bayern’s Contract Offer to Neuer Takes Nübel Into Account

The record champions are looking to sign their number one for two to three years at a lower wage, but include “performance bonuses.” Neuer is dubious of these bonuses possibly because there is the chance that he is demoted to the bench in one or two seasons. Unfortunately for Nübel, the captain’s position as the number one is utterly undisputed. Hansi Flick recently confirmed Neuer’s starting status. By 2022 or 2023, however, things might be different. Nübel will play next season, and a bad run of form or injury to Neuer could see the captain demoted. Nothing in football is written in stone. Simply put, it is hard to see how these contract negotiations will end.

Nübel’s Contract Reportedly Guarantees Him Matches

The announcement that Nübel would be signing with Bayern began this drama, but the details only made things worse for Neuer. It has been roundly reported in Germany that Nübel’s contract guarantees him 15 appearances next season, putting the speculation of a loan move out of the question. There are only six possible DFB Pokal games if Bayern reach the final, meaning that nine of Nübel’s appearances could be in the Bundesliga or Champions League. At the same time, Neuer has made it clear that he does not plan on sharing matches. When asked about the possible appearance guarantee by Bild, Neuer said: “there is no such thing in competitive sports.”

Bayern Want to Keep the World Class Neuer While Planning for the Future

Neuer feels disrespected by Bayern’s acquisition of Nübel, but the move is incredibly risky for the youngsters’ career. If he only makes a handful of appearances over the next one, two, or even three seasons, no one knows what his form will be like once Bayern expect him to play every match. Many are wondering why Nübel would leave his starting spot at Schalke, where he would gain many hours of priceless top-flight experience, for a minor role at Bayern. Why not join Bayern in 2023 or 2024 when Neuer needs replacing? This is not new, however, like many up and coming German talents have seen their careers stutter at Bayern, and Nübel could be added to that list. 

Bayern view Neuer as their number one for the next two or three seasons. The plan, however, is clear: Nübel will learn from Neuer and then replace him. Bayern are record champions for a reason, and they will ensure that their future goalkeeper is one of Germany’s best. Neuer will concede to earning less than Countinho while accepting that matches will be shared with Nübel, or Bayern will offer Neuer the reported five year, €100 million deal. One of the parties will have to compromise. Nübel’s development, however, could be disrupted, in which case Bayern would be risking Neuer’s departure for nothing.  

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