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Four departures

Slimmed-down squad to Van Gaal’s liking

Many a New Year’s resolution involves slimming down a little after the holiday festivities, and Bayern boast an exemplary record in that respect after shedding four of the 25-man senior squad in the last couple of days. Luca Toni (AS Roma), Andreas Ottl and Breno (Nürnberg) and now Alexander Baumjohann have all left the Säbener Strasse, the first three on loan and the latter for good: the 22-year-old has returned to his former club Schalke.

The squad actually numbered 26 at the start of the season, but José Sosa left on loan to Estudiantes de La Plata in Argentina last autumn. The five-player reduction is very much to Louis van Gaal’s liking, as the 58-year-old has made no secret of his preference for a 20 to 22-man unit – “more is bad for the mood and motivation,” he says – together with a couple of up-and-coming young hopefuls.

Chance for youthful trio

Instead of Toni, Ottl and Co, three promising reserves will now travel to the winter training camp in Dubai. David Alaba (17), Mehmet Ekici (19) and Diego Contento (19) will be handed a chance to impress the coaching staff. Alaba has already completed a few sessions with the seniors, and it would hardly come as a surprise were Van Gaal to add another scintillating youth prospect to his team in the wake of the success achieved by Thomas Müller und Holger Badstuber.

After hardly featuring in the first half of the season, Ottl and Breno have gone to neighbouring Nürnberg in search of regular first-team football, and FCN coach Dieter Hecking is set to fulfil their wishes. “A player who’s number 14 or 15 at Bayern can’t be bad,” he commented at Nürnberg’s training camp in Belek, Turkey. Ottl and Breno are set to join their new team-mates there on Monday.