January 2nd 2015. One day after the whole world had woken up from their post New Year’s Eve hangovers, FC Bayern decided to present to the fans a slightly surprising announcement. If they meant it to be a new year’s present for the fans isn’t up for debate, but for young Joshua Kimmich it surely was the best way to start 2015. It was official, as the German Record Bundesliga champions announced the signing of the Germany youth international, who would be joining the squad for Pep Guardiola’s 3rd and probably final year of his tenure at the Allianz Arena.
To majority of the fans outside of Germany, the question was “Who is this kid?” coupled with the usual follow-up “Do we really need him?” and statements similar to “Great. Another kid who may be wasting his time” as they were left frustrated with the Emre Can situation.
Who Is Joshua Kimmich?
Born on the 8th of February in the year 1995, Kimmich is a central midfielder who rose through the youth setup of VfB Stuttgart. Stuttgart was the big local club for Joshua as he was born and raised in a small town called Rottweil, about 50 miles from the city. Kimmich was admitted to the Stuttgart youth academy aged 12.
The midfielder belongs to the set of upcoming German talent born in 1995, along with Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka, Niklas Sule, Julian Brandt, David Selke, Niklas Stark and Marc Stendara amongst many others. Kimmich was definitely not the most attractive of the pack, as you can see for yourself with the other names mentioned above. Players like Brandt and Meyer have much more experience internationally and at club level, but Bayern coaching staff must have seen something real special in this kid to pay 7 Million Euros to VfB Stuttgart for his services.
Talent Radar Accolades
The fee was quite surprising to most people in and outside Germany. The player had not appeared even once in the Bundesliga before, playing for 2. Bundesliga side RB Leipzig (VfB Stuttgart bought the player back using a buy-back clause and earned close to 6.25 Million Euros in profit by selling Kimmich to Bayern in the same window).
A certain DFB Coach, Thomas Sinz who is in charge of one of the specialized youth training camps and bases around Germany and was also a mentor for young Joshua between the ages of 11-15 says, “From Day one, you could sense the hunger he had. He was extremely driven and motivated. In my opinion, it was very obvious that Joshua would make it as a professional footballer. It was surprising to see the level of maturity in his teen years, always determined, down to earth and helpful in training and always beaming with self-confidence in the right amounts.”
Almost a decade after, Kimmich spoke to the media after his move to the German champions and you could sense the confidence that Thomas Sinz had mentioned and judging by his pre-season performance so far, it looks like he does have the skills to back up his talking.
Style of Play
From what I’ve written so far, it is easy for one to misinterpret that Kimmich has recently only broken into the limelight and 2015 might probably be the best year of his footballing life so far. But that actually isn’t the case. The young German has had an illustrious 2013 and 2014 too. Always a step ahead of rest of the players in the youth set-ups, Kimmich debuted for the Stuttgart u17 side aged only 15 while debuted for the u19 side aged 17. He is also a multiple recipient of the Fritz-Walter Medal.
This award is given to the top 3 young talents in Germany. In 2013, Kimmich won the silver medal aged 18 and followed it up with a bronze medal in 2014. The move to Bayern Munich can only be merely considered as platform for Kimmich to achieve much more glory as a player while also hopefully win some big trophies with the club, thereby repaying the faith that has been put in him.
Coming to the style of play, Joshua Kimmich is a central midfielder. It is not fair to call him an outright defensive midfielder. He is quite similar to an Ilkay Gundogan or Bastian Schweinsteiger. Yes, he is a box-box central midfielder who often plays to the best of his ability when partnered either with an outright defensive midfielder or a deep lying playmaker. Once he made the move to Leipzig, Kimmich’s career started to rocket in the correct direction. He was getting regular playing time while he had the full trust of his coach, Zorniger. Leipzig were playing in the 3rd division when Joshua made the switch but played a role in their promotion to 2. Bundesliga. His performances earned him his first Fritz-Walter medal.
In 2014, he became an integral player for the team and was a regular starter paired with Rani Khedira (Sami Khedira’s brother) a defensive midfielder. When in possession of the ball and while the team is attacking, Kimmich is easy on the eye. He possesses the skill to dribble with ease and has very good technique which is backed up with excellent passing and vision. His cup of tea though is playing very deep in the central regions of the pitch, to be exact he plays right in front of the back 4. His positioning makes him the first option to receive a pass from either centre backs or from the goalkeeper. Kimmich also is a treasure to have when defending, he knows to recover loose balls, put in clean tackles and his positioning is as good as you could ask for. A pacey contender, he can get himself out of many tight situations that he may have self-induced while he does not shy away from putting in a bold tackle or fight for the ball in one-one situations and is always available for passes.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Passing: For a box-box midfielder who favours the defensive department, he possesses more than adequate passing skills and boasts a more than adequate range of passing. One can say he has hawk-eye vision to spot a defence splitting pass in the final third. Though he completed only 75% of his passes last season at Leipzig, which is mostly due to the aggressive style of gameplay of the club.
- Tackling: He may look puny and not very muscular, but as mentioned previously, he does not
shy away from tough tackles and is not afraid to use his body.
- Presence of Mind: Calm and cool as a cucumber, Kimmich is very composed in tense situations. A trait which is usually associated with Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger. (You get where I am going with this point, now that he is no more a part of Bayern.)
- Physique: If one wants to succeed to the levels of Bastian Schweinsteiger (who by the way is Kimmich’s role model) or Yaya Toure, you definitely need a very muscular physique, one that is very hard to shove away from the ball. Kimmich lacks this as of now, but isn’t one that can’t be worked on over the years.
What does the future hold?
Kimmich isn’t the best of the youth out there but he does have something special. And with good box-box traits in him, joining Bayern with the loss of Schweinsteiger and the arrival of Chilean Arturo Vidal, Kimmich will benefit from his move to Bayern and we sure can expect great things from this young prospect, who can go a long way in football if he does not change his character or style of play. His biggest competition as of now is Hojbjerg, but it may be just a mere obstacle for young Joshua to cross before scaling the heights that he is seemingly destined for, as competition for places is a normal issue in the best clubs of the world. Bayern definitely have taken a gamble but signs from the player so far, point towards the gamble paying off.
Written by Alankrith Shankar