By Karl Matchett.
Carlo Ancelotti won't rock up at the Allianz Arena until summer, when Pep Guardiola in turn leaves for the Premier League and Manchester City, but already there are suggestions and rumours as to who the Italian will want at the Bundesliga club for next season.
The first big name featured in the rumour mill over the last few days is attacking playmaker Mario Gotze, with the German unable to really establish himself as a guaranteed starter since leaving Borussia Dortmund for their great rivals. With one year left on his contract, Gotze has been linked with a host of sides outside of the Bundesliga and the suggestion is that Ancelotti doesn't see a future for him at Bayern.
He's unlikely to be the only one facing that prospect.Â
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Serdar Tasci joined Bayern in the January transfer window in a slightly surprising move, coming in on loan from Spartak Moscow. With defenders such as Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez out injured, and Holger Badstuber on a continual on-off cycle of fitness, Tasci was required as cover but has barely featured since then.
Bayern do have an option to make the loan permanent at the end of the season, but with less than an hour of game time to his name to this point it's probably not going to be high up on Ancelotti's list of priorities, particularly if he wants to make a few alterations to the squad himself and forge a new central defensive pairing.
As for Gotze, while having only a year left on his deal is worth noting, it's also probable that Ancelotti looks at the rest of the squad and things that Gotze won't have a fixed role to play. He's clearly better either as a No. 10 or from the right side with freedom to come infield and attack the far postÂ…but so is Thomas Muller.
In that particular battle for a starting spot, there's only one winner at Bayern.
Add in Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman and Franck Ribery and there is enormous competition for spots in the wide forward roles, and Ancelotti doesn't typically play with a No. 10. At PSG and at Real Madrid he has mainly operated with a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 system, so it looks like Gotze who'll make way.
Fitting a role
Central midfield has been a key, and very particular, role for Pep Guardiola, who is well-known for structuring his side in different ways through the middle third of the pitch and altering the rest of his tactics accordingly.
Ancelotti can almost certainly be expected to try to line up in a more regular and structured way once he takes over, with a holder and two pushing on further forward. Again in a squad like Bayern there is great competition for places, and to the usual group-Arturo Vidal and Thiago included-it is possible that Javi Martinez will reprise his old role of playing either a holding midfield position or surging further forward, rather than playing from centre-back.
Whether or not there are additions to the squad in this area of the field, Sebastian Rode has to be looked at as a player out of place and out of luck; he's the least-talented and most easily dropped of the current squad, hasn't gotten regular game time this season and is a viable asset to allow Ancelotti to restructure.
Our fourth and final pick is more contentious and open to debate, but a possibility nonetheless: Xabi Alonso.
The Spanish World Cup winner was Ancelotti's holding midfielder at Real Madrid when the side won the Champions League, and certainly could continue in the role another season. However, he's also going to turn 35 years of age during next season and, if Ancelotti does opt for a two-man pivot in the centre, simply doesn't have the consistency in athleticism to be both a ball-winner and a starter of attacks from deep.
Vidal-Thiago or Vidal-Martinez offer a more vertical threat than either paired with Alonso, while young talents Joshua Kimmich, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Gianluca Gaudino will also be at Ancelotti's disposal.
It isn't likely to be a summer of huge upheaval at the Allianz Arena with regard to the playing staff, but Ancelotti will want to put his own stamp on the side, and that's going to involve one or two hard decisions about players who are currently considered regulars-but might have no fixed role under the new regime.