Bayern Munich are the biggest and most successful club in German football, and one of the most successful in Europe, with 55 trophies to their name in total. Still the dominant force in the German game and one to be reckoned with in the Champions League, Bayern's trophy haul shows no signs of being brought to a halt. Some of the greatest players of all time played for Bayern, including the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, but not all players fully found their feet in Bavaria.
From promising academy players to big-money flops, this is a list of players who failed to truly make it at Bayern but had successful careers elsewhere either before or after, or both. Some players gave decent accounts of themselves in a Bayern shirt but just couldn't nail down a regular starting place in the team due to the quality of the competition, whilst others actually had a disastrous time with the club and one they'll want to forget.
The list is ranked both in terms of how much the player struggled at Bayern and also how good they were or went on to be outside of Munich. The list includes Champions League, World Cup and Ballon d'Or winners, all of whom showed they were quality players, but never quite made it at the Allianz Arena or the Olympiastadion. Here are the top 20 players who never made it at Bayern Munich:
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20 Thomas Kraft
Goalkeeper is the hardest position to break into in football as a youngster, due to the fact that only one player can play there and managers are often reluctant to gamble in such a crucial position. At no club is that sentiment truer than at Bayern Munich. From Sepp Maier and Oliver Kahn, right up to the present day with Manuel Neuer, Bayern have been blessed with some of the greatest shot stoppers in the history of the game. Thomas Kraft spent seven years at Bayern, where he was a regular for Bayern II, but made only 19 appearances for the first team. He has been first choice at Hertha Berlin since 2011, and is now showing just what a good goalkeeper he is with 140 first team appearances to his name.
19 Landon Donovan
A harsh inclusion perhaps, given Landon Donovan's limited time in Bavaria, but one which deserves a mention due to the mass interest surrounding it. The LA Galaxy legend who is arguably the greatest player in MLS history made three loans to Europe, one to Bayern and two to Everton. Donovan's loan time with Bayern was brief, and he made only seven appearances in all competitions, failing to score or make any major contribution and the German champions subsequently declined the option to extend his loan. With seven trophies, 157 caps and 57 goals, Donovan is one of the most decorated players in the history of the U.S. game.
18 Zvjezdan Misimovic
Zvjezdan Misimovic may now be seeing out the swan song years of his career in the lucrative yet not particularly high in quality Chinese second tier, but in his prime, he was a very talented attacking midfielder. The second most capped and second highest scorer in the history of the Bosnian national team, Misimovic spent 4 years at Bayern, between the ages of 18 and 22, in which time he made over 100 appearances for Bayern II but only 4 for the clubs first team. He went on to play successfully in the Bundesliga with Bochum, Nürnberg and Wolfsburg, before spells in Turkey and Russia with Galatasaray and Dynamo Moscow respectively. Misimovic has won the Bundesliga twice, once with Bayern in 2003 and once with Wolfsburg in 2009.
17 Steffen Hofmann
Another attacking midfielder, Steffen Hofmann came through the academy at Bayern Munich, first joining the club at 16. Despite being highly regarded by the coaching staff at the club, Hofmann never broke into the first team fold, making only one senior appearance for Die Roten before his departure at the age of 22. He went on to have a great career in Austria with Rapid Wien, where he is currently the second highest appearance holder in the clubs history, having played 495 games in all competitions. Still playing for the club, Hofmann could well set the record before hanging up his boots. Hofmann has won two league titles in Austria and also spent a season with Bayern's rivals 1860 Munchen in the Bundesliga, sandwiched between his two stints with Rapid Wien.
16 Breno Borges
Although Bayern Munich are no strangers to splashing the cash, they rarely do so on very young players, preferring to only part with top dollar for established stars. Breno Borges was something of an exception to the rule then, as the Bavarian giants paid 12 million euros for the Brazilian defender in December 2007, then aged only 18. Borges had been tracked by the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid, and seemed a future super star, also being part of Brazil's 2008 Olympic squad. He turned out to be arguably the worst signing in Bayern's history, playing only 21 games for the club before being arrested and in-prisoned for arson. Once released, Borges joined Sao Paolo on a free transfer.
15 Alou Diarra
A poor man's Patrick Vieira, perhaps, but Alou Diarra was a very effective midfielder enforcer when at his best. He joined Bayern at the age of 19, and spent 2 years at the club, but despite being a key player for Bayern II, he never made a first team appearance in the Bundesliga. He was offered a three-year deal by the club but rejected it in his quest to play regular football. Diarra also failed to break through at Liverpool and Lyon, but finally found regular football with Bordeaux, and went on to win Ligue 1 twice, the Coup de France once and win 44 caps for France, captaining them on a number of occasions, most notably a 1-0 win over Brazil in 2011.
14 Danijel Pranjic
Croatian international Danijel Pranjic went from being a star player at Heerenveen to a utility and squad player at Bayern Munich, although that is perhaps unsurprising given the step up in quality of opposition. Pranjic joined Bayern in 2009 as a 28-year-old, and played 55 league games in his three seasons at the Allianz Arena. He rarely stood out in a Bayern shirt though, only seeing first team action in the wake of injury or suspension to a more regular starter. He left the club in 2012 for Sporting Lisbon, and currently plays in Greece with Panathinaikos. Pranjic has won 58 caps for his country and is yet to retire from international football.
13 Piotr Trochowski
Polish-born attacking midfielder Piotr Trochowski was a product of the Bayern Munich academy, his years at the club spanning between the ages of 15 and 21. Always highly rated at Bayern, Trochowski played 14 games for the club, but eventually grew frustrated with the lack of first team opportunities and joined Hamburg. There he played regularly for 6 years, winning two Intertoto Cups, before joining Sevilla in 2011. Trochowski spent three seasons at Sevilla, adding the Europa League to his trophy cabinet before departing for current club Augsburg. He has also won 35 caps for the German national team.
12 Jose Sosa
Jose Sosa won an Argentine league title as a key player at the age of 21, and joined Bayern Munich the following year. The talented midfielder played only 52 games in four years at the club though, before departing for Napoli in 2010. After a year in Italy he joined Metalist of Ukraine. He was on-loan at Atletico Madrid in 2014 when he and the club won their famous La Liga title. Now aged 30, Sosa is currently plying his trade in Turkey with Besiktas. Despite never making it at Bayern, Sosa has had a successful career and one which includes winning 19 caps for Argentina.
11 Edson Braafheid
Born in Suriname, like a large number of Dutch internationals, Edson Braafheid established himself in Holland with Utrecht and FC Twente before making the move to Bayern. Like so many on this list though, Braafheid found regular game time hard to come by in Bavaria, and went on-loan to Celtic in a successful attempt to bolster his chances of making the Netherlands' squad for the 2010 World Cup, in which his country reached the final. Since then, the 32-year-old left-back has played for Hoffenheim, FC Twente (again) and his current club Lazio.
10 Pepe Reina
Pepe Reina is a fine goalkeeper but no stranger to playing second fiddle, as he has done for the Spanish national team throughout his career, due to the excellence of Casillas. At club level though, Reina should always be playing regularly, and that made his move from Liverpool to Bayern Munich a slightly strange one, as the Spaniard is far too good to be a number 2, but was never likely to displace Manuel Neuer. He left after just a season, which consisted of 3 starts and one red card. He moved to Napoli where he is now once more the managers first choice between the sticks.
9 Paolo Guerrero
The first Peruvian in history to make Fifa's Ballon d'Or nominee list, Paolo Guerrero is undoubtedly talented, but could never quite nail down a starting place at Bayern. He joined the club at the age of 18, and left when he was 22, but despite winning two Bundesliga titles, scoring a reasonable 13 goals in 44 games for the first team and scoring prolifically for Bayern II, he was still deemed surplus to requirements. He found regular football at Hamburg, where he spent the next six years, before joining Corinthians and current club Flamengo. Guerrero has won 64 caps for Peru, scoring 25 goals, meaning he currently sits only one goal behind all time Peru record goal scorer Teofilo Cubillas.
8 Emre Can
Dynamic, athletic and versatile, Emre Can has become an important player for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. The midfielder, who is equally capable of playing in defence, was part of the youth set-up at Bayern, before spending a season in the first team. He made only six appearances in that time though, joining Bayer Leverkusen the following season. 39 games in a single season at Leverkusen proved enough to convince Liverpool to snap up the German international, who has won 3 caps for his country. Can's game still needs improvement, but at the age of 22 and already a Liverpool regular, time is on his side.
7 Lukas Podolski
It's a curious case why Lukas Podolski never quite made it at either Bayern Munich or Arsenal, given his frankly incredible record at international level with Germany. The Polish born forward capable of playing through the middle or out on the left has scored 46 goals from 126 caps for Germany, and has a similarly impressive record of 86 goals from 181 games for Koln. Podolski did score goals for Bayern, 15 in 71 in the league, but never looked quite as convincing as he did in a Germany shirt or truly at home at the Allianz Arena. Aged 30, Podolski now plays for Galatasaray, where he has scored 10 goals in 20 league games.
6 Sebastian Deisler
Touted as Germany's great hope in a time of relative footballing strife for the country at the turn of the millennium, Sebastian Deisler was one of the finest prospects in world football. He began playing for Borussia Monchengladbach at the age of 18 and the German national team at the age of 20. Deisler joined Bayern for around $12 million, despite being injured upon the time of his move and already very injury prone. The added pressure of playing for the club mixed with his continuing serious right knee injuries saw him develop depression, and he ultimately retired from football aged 27, with 86 Bayern appearances to his name but never truly reaching the heights his ability should have due to injuries.
5 Marcell Jansen
Part of the Germany squad's which finished third at the 2006 World Cup, second at Euro 2008 and third at the 2010 World Cup, Marcell Jansen won 45 caps for his country and was known as a very capable left-back who posed good attacking threat. He joined Bayern as a 22-year-old from Monchengladbach, but stayed only a season, playing only 17 league games due to injury. The following season he joined Hamburg, where he became a stalwart, playing 184 games in 7 years. When his Hamburg contract wasn't renewed in 2015, the 29-year-old declared his retirement from the game, saying he could never wear another shirt or kiss the badge of another club other than Hamburg.
4 Jurgen Kohler
It may be a little unfair to say Jurgen Kohler never made it at Bayern Munich, but the defender only spent two seasons at the club, when really they should have held onto him and built their defence around him. One of the finest defender of the 1990s, right up there in the same bracket at Paolo Maldini or Marcel Desailly. Not flashy but quite simply a brick wall, Kohler's complete shut out of Eric Cantona is cited by many as one of the reasons behind the Frenchman's early retirement. Kohler spent two seasons at Bayern before becoming a legend at both Juventus and rivals Borussia Dortmund. He won the Bundesliga three times, Serie A once, the World Cup once, the European Championship once and won 105 caps for Germany.
3 Xherdan Shaqiri
Everyone at Bayern Munich was aware of the immense yet mercurial talents of Xherdan Shaqiri, hence their continued reluctance to let go of the player, but in 2015 they finally did so. Shaqiri joined Bayern from Basel, and played 81 games in 3 seasons, but never quite convinced the Bayern faithful what he was capable of, particularly struggling for consistency. With more than half a century of caps for Switzerland to his name already at the age of only 24, Shaqiri is now a star man in the Stoke City team and beginning to find a bit more consistency in the Premier League.
2 Mats Hummels
The one that got away in many respects for Bayern Munich, Mats Hummels came through the club's esteemed youth academy, joining the club as a six-year-old and not leaving until he was 21. In that time, Hummels made only two first team appearances. He left first on loan to Borussia Dortmund, before making the move a permanent one the following season. Hummels has since become a titan at the back for Bayern's rivals and the German national team, establishing himself as one of the finest defenders in world football. He has played 294 games for Dortmund, winning 5 trophies including two Bundesliga titles. Hummels has had similar success at international level, winning 44 caps for Germany, and of course the World Cup in 2014, in which he made both Fifa's 'All-Star' and 'Dream Team'.
1 Jean-Pierre Papin
The 1991 Ballon d'Or winner Jean-Pierre Papin had an exceptional career, winning 12 trophies, including Ligue 1 and Serie A titles as well as the Champions League. A five-time Ligue 1 top scorer and three-time European Cup top scorer, Papin enjoyed much success with Club Brugge, Marseille, Milan and Bordeaux, but the same could not be said of his time at Bayern Munich. A prolific goal scorer, Papin retired with an overall record of 303 goals in 542 games, yet his record at Bayern stood at only 6 goals from 40 games.
Papin was 31 when he joined Bayern, and 33 when he left after two seasons at the club. In that time the Bavarian giants failed to win the Bundesliga but did lift the UEFA Cup in 1996. Papin looked a shadow of his usual self, and the once world record breaking signing for AC Milan left for Bordeaux in 1996, where he once more scored goals for fun. Goals at club level were mirrored by goals at international level, where Papin scored 30 goals in 54 games for France, finishing third at the 1986 World Cup.
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