On Thursday, Bayern Munich announced the homecoming of Hoffenheim striker Sandro Wagner on a contract that will run until June 2020. “A Germany international is joining FC Bayern in the form of Sandro Wagner,” Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic revealed. Wagner, on his part, was glad to finally return to the club where it all started. He said: “I‘m delighted. A long journey for me is now at an end and I can return to my home, my club. I‘m very happy that it’s come off.”
Indeed, it’s been a torrid, yet worthwhile journey for Wagner. Born in Deucthland’s football capital, Munich, three decades ago, he received the perfect soccer education at Bayern after joining as an eight-year-old. Like many others in the Bavaria youth set-up, he displayed incredible skill set, progressing superbly through the ranks. But unlike his peers, Wagner’s transitions were far more swift and smooth. In 2006, he was already playing for the reserves and just one year later, he was given a shot with the first team, making four Bundesliga appearances. The striker appeared set to make major strides in the game. That never really materialised, however.
Wagner’s career pulse all but flatlined for much of the next six years. A few highs were punctuated by far too many lows as he failed to impress after parting ways with his beloved Bayern in 2008. First, he tried his luck at Duisburg, where he racked up 12 strikes in 36 appearances. Separate spells at Werder Bremen, Kaiserslautern and Hertha Berlin followed. One thing was synonymous at all three clubs: Wagner spent no longer than two seasons. Overall, he managed only 19 goals in 130 Bundesliga appearances.
As Wagner approached his second year at Hertha, the energetic forward was on the move once again. This time, it was down south to MSV Darmstadt. Expected to sink without trace as part of a newly-promoted side hotly tipped to make a speedy, inglorious return to Bundesliga 2, Wagner suddenly became a force to be reckoned with. At the modest club, everyone worked for each other, a virtue which remained with the forward after he stepped out of Merck-Stadion. Against all odds, the Lilies retained top-flight status, a feat made possible by Wagner’s 14 strikes in 32 games.
Wagner’s somewhat new-found revival opened more prosperous doors. Hoffenheim proved the most interesting. There he was a fundamental piece in the club reaching European football for the first time in history. In his one-and-a-half seasons under Julian Nagelsmann, the 6’3” striker remained focus on sharpening his poaching abilities. It was evident as he hit double figures for only the second time in his career. He is on track to continue that streak with four in nine games this term.
There’s a lot more to Wagner’s game than just the goals, though. Described as ‘strong and charismatic’ by Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen, the 30-year-old is a typical bully in the box. Amplified by his direct and imposing style, allowing him to wreak havoc on opposing defences for his teammates to penetrate. The seven-time capped German international also flaunts incredible aerial power, exquisite first touch, and more importantly, strong work ethic.
Sandro Wagner’s appearance and playing style are certainly reminiscent of a bygone era in German football. But as they say, wine tastes better with age. No harm having a sip Bayern. None at all.