The story of how Bayern failed to get Kevin De Bruyne
The list of top players Bayern Munich have plucked away from Bundesliga rivals grows every year: Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer in recent seasons, soon to be followed by Leon Goretzka in the summer.
But Bayern may rue missing out on one particular star: Kevin De Bruyne, Germany's Player of the Year in 2014-15, and now the driving force behind Manchester City's assault on four fronts.
Having picked him up from Genk for around £7m, then-Champions League holders Chelsea loaned the promising 21-year-old to Bremen in a deal engineered by their savvy sporting director Klaus Allofs. De Bruyne returned to Stamford Bridge and began the following season as a first-choice for Jose Mourinho, starring alongside new signing Eden Hazard in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. But he soon fell down the pecking at Chelsea, having to feed on scraps having lost the confidence of Mourinho to play to his tactical instructions.
De Bruyne started the 2015-16 campaign by giving Guardiola's side demonstrarion of his talent as he set up a late equaliser for Niklas Bendtner in the Super Cup penalty shootout success over Bayern.
It proved enough for the Bavarians to make their move. Though Allofs, aided by VW's treasure chest, was trying in vain to establish Wolfsburg as serious rivals, he knew he was fighting a losing battle to keep hold of his main asset. Everything was set for De Bruyne to move across Germany, before Bayern baulked at the price.
"We reached a personal agreement with Bayern after two meetings. The deal collapsed on the asking price," De Bruyne's agent Patrick De Koster later said. "I think that Bayern wanted to pay €50m, but not a euro more." Bayern attempted to save face, denying a bid, clearly knowing they were fighting a losing battle against City, who eventually got the deal over the line at approaching €80m with add-ons. And the rest is history.
Bayern may look back with some regret over what might have been, as De Bruyne has emerged to become one of the best players in the world under Guardiola. But as they prepare to face 13th placed Wolfsburg, aiming to cement their sixth Bundesliga title in a row, they might just be glad that he's not on the opposing team this weekend.