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Football Whispers
 By Mark Lovell

Bayern Munich summer briefing: China tour, International Champions Cup, DFL Super Cup, transfers

After cruising to a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title, Bayern Munich's star-studded squad are still involved in international action and clocking up the air miles. Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Thiago (Spain), David Alaba (Austria) and Kingsley Coman (France) all joined up with their countries for World Cup qualifiers. Rafinha and Douglas Costa returned to the Selecao as second-half substitutes in Brazil's 1-0 friendly defeat against Argentina on Friday at the MCG, and Renato Sanches is part of Portugal's under-21 squad for the European Championships in Poland.

Defending World Cup winners Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were all spared Germany's trip to Russia for the Confederations Cup and can enjoy the rare privilege of an extended break before preseason training starts in Munich on July 1. However, Joshua Kimmich joins summer signings Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule in Joachim Low's squad, meaning the German trio could miss early club preparations for next season if Die Mannschaft progress to the latter stages. Chile's Arturo Vidal (and summer transfer target Alexis Sanchez) line up in the same group as Germany, which could also hamper a prompt return to Bavaria.

Following a couple of friendlies against local amateur opposition in Bavaria, Bayern head off on their second trip to China, where they reportedly boast around 135 million fans. A familiar opponent in the shape of FA Cup winners Arsenal awaits in Shanghai on July 19, with a match against AC Milan in Shenzhen three days later. Carlo Ancelotti's side then move on to Singapore to meet Premier League winners Chelsea in the International Champions Cup on July 25, before concluding their Asian adventure against 18-time Italian champions Inter Milan.

On their return to German soil, the annual four-team Audi Cup looms in early August, against potential opposition such as Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool and Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid. The German champions and the domestic cup winners meet in the DFL Super Cup, meaning a trip to Borussia Dortmund in early August, with a DFB Pokal first-round tie following a week later, before Bayern begin their quest for a sixth consecutive Bundesliga title on Aug. 18.


July 6: Bayern Munich vs. Wolfratshausen (Bavaria)
July 9: Bayern Munich vs. Erlangen (Erlangen, Bavaria)
July 15: Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim, third-place playoff or final follows vs. Borussia Monchengladbach or Werder Bremen (Telekom Cup, four-team tournament in Hoffenheim)
July 19: Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal (Audi Football Summit, Shanghai, China)
July 22: Bayern Munich vs. AC Milan (Audi Football Summit, Shenzhen, China)
July 25: Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea (Int. Champions Cup, Singapore)
July 27: Bayern Munich vs. Inter Milan (Int. Champions Cup, Singapore)
Aug. 2: Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, final team TBC (Audi Cup, four-team tournament in Munich)
Aug. 5: Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund (DFL Supercup 2017, Dortmund)
TBC: Bayern Munich vs. Chemnitz (DFB Pokal first round)

Total matches: 12
Overseas miles travelled: 13,792 (estimated)

- Munich to Shanghai, July 16: 5,250 miles
- Shanghai to Singapore, July 23: 2,295 miles
- Singapore to Munich, July 28: 6,247 miles


Apart from the irritation of the Confederations Cup, Bayern still have a few notable injury worries ahead of the new campaign. After breaking his collarbone hiking in Spain toward the end of last season, record signing Javi Martinez is expected to miss Bayern's Asian tour, and Germany's captain Manuel Neuer is still struggling to shake off a fractured toe, suffered in the Champions League second-leg defeat against eventual winners Real Madrid.

In fact, considering the combined goalkeeping injury woe of Neuer, No. 2 Sven Ulreich (elbow) and youngster Christian Fruchtl (torn ligaments) means newly retired 36-year-old veteran custodian Tom Starke may be forced to come out of retirement to assist on Bayern's Far East adventure.

Ins and outs

President Uli Hoeness suggested last month that Bayern could go big in the transfer market this summer and Arsenal's Sanchez is reportedly Bayern's top summer target. They moved quickly to bring in Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim to boost their German contingent and recently completed a move for Serge Gnabry, via Werder Bremen.

It would be no surprise if Douglas Costa leaves the club if a bid approaching €40m is forthcoming. Bayern may also be prepared to cut their losses on the disappointing Sanches if they can salvage the fee paid to Benfica for the Golden Boy last year. Meanwhile, Ulreich wants regular first-team football, but the understudy to Neuer has a nagging elbow injury which might have scuppered any immediate chances of a move.

The real task will be how to fill the void left by the retired Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso.

Already signed:
- Niklas Sule, DF: Hoffenheim, €25 million
- Sebastian Rudy, MF: Hoffenheim, free transfer
- Serge Gnabry, MF: Werder Bremen, €8 million

Major players linked with arrival:
- Alexis Sanchez, FW: Arsenal, €60m
- Romelu Lukaku, FW: Everton, €75m
- Marco Verratti, MF: PSG, €65m
- Leon Goretzka, MF: Schalke, €12m
- Corentin Tolisso, MF: Olympique Lyon, €25m

Already left:
- Philipp Lahm, DF: retired
- Xabi Alonso, MF: retired
- Tom Starke, GK: retired
- Holger Badstuber, DF: contract ended free agent

Possible departures:
- Douglas Costa, MF: Spurs/Juventus/China: €40m
- Renato Sanches, MF: Manchester United: €35m plus add-ons
- Sven Ulreich, GK: Eintracht Frankfurt, €4m
- Juan Bernat, DF: Manchester City, €20m


Depending on the fortunes of Chile and Germany at the Confed Cup, Ancelotti may use preseason to test a few youngsters who can also help out during the less-pressurised environment of the Asian tour. Bayern's reserve side will also be well into the groove having long returned to training on June 6 ahead of their Regionalliga campaign.

Possible youth-teamers to travel to China/Singapore:
- Felix Gotze, DF, 19 years old
- Fabian Benko, MF, 19
- Timothy Tillman, MF, 18

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.


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