MUNICH – Nearly six weeks have passed since Bayern Munich lifted the German Cup in Berlin's Olympic Stadium and on Monday they become the last Bundesliga team to begin pre-season training for the next campaign.
When coach Niko Kovac leads his players through their paces he will have assistance for the first time from Hansi Flick, who was confirmed as part of the background staff on Sunday.
"I'm looking forward to the job, to working with players again and working with Niko," the 54-year-old Flick, who played for Bayern 1985-1990 - said online.
A long-time employee of the German federation DFB, Flick brings experience to aid the younger Kovac (47) who ended his debut season at Bayern with the domestic double after a tricky start.
The first day back at Saebener Street included the introduction of French World Cup winning defender Lucas Hernandez, who joined from Atletico Madrid for a club record 80 million euros (90 million dollars). He is waiting on the "green light" from doctors to join training following a knee operation.
"I am happy to be here," the 23-year-old said in German, adding he wanted to show the fee paid for him as "well invested."
"Bayern are one of the best teams in the world," he said. "They contest the title and cup every year, and are always present in the Champions League. Everyone in the whole of Europe knows that."
Hernandez's compatriot Benjamin Pavard signed from VfB Stuttgart, as has young striking talent Fiete Arp from SV Hamburg. A combined outlay of 120 million euros for the trio is not insignificant but Bayern's squad still looks weaker than last term.
Veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are gone, as are defenders Rafinha and Mats Hummels. Attacking midfielder James Rodriguez did not extend his loan.
Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Bayern were "very proud" to sign a world champion such as Hernandez but will be aware he and the rest of the leadership are under scrutiny.
Thomas Kroth, agent of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, said in a recent interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung paper that more signings had to be made to stay competitive at the highest level.
Rummenigge said this was only a personal opinion from the agent, and not that of Neuer, and that he had spoken with the keeper by phone.
National players such as Robert Lewandowski and Neuer will join training later ahead of the July 15 start of a United States tour.
During the nine-day trip Bayern will be in Los Angeles to face Arsenal, in Houston against Real Madrid and in Kansas City to meet AC Milan.
Kovac started with only eight senior professionals on Monday with Arp being joined by Thomas Mueller, Thiago, Javi Martinez, Corentin Tolisso, Jerome Boateng, Renato Sanches and Christian Fruechtl.dpa