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Bayern confirm $90 million transfer for Atletico Madrid’s Hernandez

Belgium v France: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 10: Lucas Hernandez of France celebrates following his sides victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between Belgium and France at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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After failing to sign some of their transfer targets last summer, Bayern Munich isn’t even waiting for the next transfer window to open to complete a big-money deal.

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FC Bayern announced on Wednesday that it had signed France World Cup winner and Atletico Madrid left back Lucas Hernandez on a $90 million transfer. Hernandez has signed a five-year contract that begins on July 1, 2019 and goes through the end of the 2023-2024 season.

Interestingly, Bayern was so set on Hernandez that it completed the deal despite a medical exam finding damage to Hernandez’s MCL in his right knee, which needs surgery. However, he’s expected to be ready for the start of the next season, though he’s likely to miss the rest of this campaign for Atletico.

“This is a really important day in my footballing career,” Hernandez said in a statement. “FC Bayern Munich is one of the best clubs in Europe and the world. I’m proud to be able to fight for all possible titles with Bayern. I’d like to thank Atletico, the management, the coaches, my teammates and the fans for 12 wonderful years. Atletico will always remain a part of me. Now I’m looking forward to taking the next step with FC Bayern.”

Born to a French father of Spanish descent, Hernandez has spent nearly all of his adult life in Madrid, and has been a part of Atletico Madrid either in the youth team or first team since 2007. Since making his first-team debut in 2014, Hernandez has played 67 times in La Liga, with additional appearances in the Copa Del Rey and both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. Last year he truly broke into the Atleti squad and his defensive sturdiness helped him push into the France starting lineup, where he helped keep the backline steady as France let its pacey squad counter-attack at will during the 2018 World Cup.

Perhaps more important than his history is the significance of this move today. It’s a sign that Bayern Munich is willing to spend money, as it absolutely shattered the club’s previous transfer record of around $45 million for Javi Martinez, though that was way back in 2012. Bayern Munich has struggled mightily this season compared to its previous highs in the middle of this decade, and while it still could catch Borussia Dortmund and win the Bundesliga, it’s clear that a number of changes had to be made.

The signing of Hernandez also reunites him with international teammate Benjamin Pavard, who’s signing for this summer from Stuttgart was confirmed by Bayern in January. Plus, it raises the market for left backs and defenders around the world, with one transferring for as high a sum as $90 million.

Bayern has realized if it wants to be one of Europe’s top clubs again, it has to reach deep into its pockets to sign top players. Wednesday was the latest sign that it is willing to do so.