There are few safer pairs of hands in the world of football management than Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian is preparing to take over from Pep Guardiola when the Catalan coach leaves Bayern Munich this summer following a three-year reign that has brought a succession of league titles, but also a trio of disappointing Champions League semi-final exits.
Perhaps it is Ancelotti’s European record that made him such an appealing option to take charge at the Allianz Arena, with his new side at the time of writing priced at 5/1 to win next year’s Champions League competition, according to the Bet365 Bundesliga odds.
Having already coached Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, Ancelotti is one of the world’s most experienced coaches. He has won the Champions League three times, which is more than any other coach since the competition’s rebranding, and he led Real Madrid to their 10th European title – the fabled Decima – during his time at the club.
Bayern have started putting a squad in place for Ancelotti, with the double signing of Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels and Benfica prodigy Renato Sanches already confirmed.
A combined fee of €70 million – with a series of possible add-ons to come – has been splashed out on Hummels and Sanches, with Bayern linked with a number of other top names.
Hummels will be a key arrival. Bayern only lost twice in the Bundesliga, but their defensive issues were exposed in Europe, where they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid at the semi-final stage.
Dortmund captain Hummels will be seen as an upgrade on Mehdi Benatia – who is unsettled and injury-prone – while he is also local and played for Bayern as a youngster.
The Sanches move shows that Bayern have learned their lesson from a major failure in the transfer market last summer. The German giants were interested in signing French teenager Anthony Martial from Monaco, but found themselves outbid by Manchester United.
Signing Sanches – who impressed in two games against Bayern in the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League – was therefore made a priority and Ancelotti will get to work with one of the brightest young talents on the continent.
Bayern already have arguably the strongest squad in Europe, with the club’s German core made up of the likes of Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller complemented by foreign players such as Xabi Alonso, Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa, Arturo Vidal and Javi Martinez.
With their main domestic rivals, Dortmund, reeling from the loss of Hummels, Ancelotti will be expected to lead Bayern to yet another league title, as well as making progress in Europe.
More deals could also be completed to make Bayern an even more threatening proposition. Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic has often been linked with a switch to Bavaria and is reportedly available for £31 million due to a release clause in his contract.
With Lahm approaching the final years of his career and often now playing in midfield, Ajax youngster Kenny Tete and Hector Bellerin have been extensively scouted, with another Arsenal star, Alexis Sanchez, also believed to be a target.
Real Madrid are expected to make a bid for Lewandowski in the summer, but a potential replacement for the Pole is Romelu Lukaku, with the Everton striker’s father, Roger, suggesting Bayern could be a good fit for his son. Colombia international James Rodriguez has also been linked with Bayern and a swap deal involving Lewandowski could well be on the cards.
After the tactical variance and constant innovation of Guardiola, Ancelotti will provide a steady presence at the helm of Bayern, with more silverware almost inevitably on its way to the club.
But the true test of his time at the club will be whether he can become the first ever football manager to win the European Cup for a fourth time. Few would bet against him making yet more history while at Bayern.