Andrew Thompson introduces us some of the young stars emerging at Bayern Munich.
Bayern have done it yet again, and this time in record breaking fashion. The German giants from Bavaria continue to maintain their stranglehold on the Bundesliga, and now have won four league titles in a row. Despite the ultimate goal of a Champions League trophy not hauled, Pep Guardiola has nevertheless maintained a level of domestic dominance that could well be next to impossible to break. The key to success, however, will be Bayern’s youth pipeline moving forward.
They certainly have the ability to pry both youngster and superstar alike away from other clubs seemingly at will, but a heavier reliance on their own youth system could see Bayern fully establish themselves at a level even higher than Bundesliga overseers.
Let’s take a look at a list of five youngsters coming through the ranks who could aid in the club’s ambitions of dominating Europe.
Niklas Dorsch (18, DM)
Touted as one of the best at the academy currently, the young holding midfielder could be a long-term solution for a position where Bayern may need to strengthen in a few years time. He played a prominent role for Germany’s U-17 side in the run-in to the U-17 Euro’s as well as the U-17 World Cup, prompting many to tip him for bigger and better things for his club. Despite being a holding player, some have compared him to Toni Kroos. With the departure of Guardiola this summer and the uncertainty that surrounds a few midfielders down the road, Dorsch could well have a role to play for the first-team before he hits the age of twenty-one.
Gianluca Gaudino (19, AM/CM/DM)
Some may rate one or two ahead of Gaudino, but his practical experience outside of the youth tiers of the Bundesliga is what, for me, puts him on this list. He was highly thought of by Pep to the point where his headmaster trusted him with eleven appearances for the first-team last campaign. With further investment this season, Gaudino was loaned to Swiss side St.Gallen, and it’s this first-team experience in the top division in Switzerland that puts him slightly ahead of the curve. It’s doubtful that the club will call him back next season, which will allow him to continue his expected growth and development. Still only nineteen, if he can reach the requisite level come his twenty-first birthday, renewed faith could be bestowed upon him sooner rather than later.
Joshua Kimmich (21, DM/DC)
The emergence of Kimmich this season is due to both his ability as a player but also Bayern’s injury crisis in defense. Down to the bare essentials at the back, Guardiola called upon the German youngster, and he absolutely delivered. All told, Kimmich would make thirty-five appearances (twenty-four as a starter) for the club. Though he showed well, it was not a fairy tale, as he was guilty quite a few times of showing his age and inexperience at the highest level. Regardless of the inevitable mistakes and adjustment period required, Kimmich undoubtedly has quite a future ahead of him and his ability to read the game and control proceedings from much deeper areas is a wonderful attribute to have at his age. A strong showing in pre-season should keep him in the first-team under Carlo Ancelotti at the bare minimum, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t feature routinely yet again.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (20, CM/DM)
Do not let the fact that he hasn’t truly broken into the Bayern first-team yet fool you…Hojbjerg has a future on him. He came through the ranks after being snapped up from Bröndby’s famed youth system in the summer of 2012 and progressed well in Bavaria. Unable to crack into the first-team, a loan spell during the second half of the 2014-15 season at upstart Augsburg showed just how talented he is; he was absolutely vital to the side who shocked everyone and finished in a Europa League place. Spending this past season on loan at Schalke also provided further proof that he isn’t far from the level Bayern require. A total of thirty-one appearances in all competitions as the primary rotation option behind Johannes Geis and Leon Goretzka did him well. His ability to control the passing lanes, dictate play and fit seamlessly into a box-to-box role are attributes that Bayern (or someone else) will want on board full time.
Kingsley Coman (19, LW/RW)
A clear-cut no brainer…the French youngster has been stellar in his first real campaign at club level. Brought in on a two-year loan from Italian giants Juventus (Bayern have a buy clause in the deal, which is why he is on this list), no one could have expected Coman to dazzle so often so soon. While an immense amount of credit should be levied in the direction of Guardiola for recognizing his potential and putting faith in him so early, Coman’s ability as a footballer makes it easy to see why such a decision was made. He’s full of pace and technical ability, and his footballing intelligence and understanding of movement both on and off the ball allowed him to be one of Bayern’s top performers this season domestically and in the Champions League. He led the Bavarians in assists in Europe (5) while finishing second in assists domestically behind fellow debutant Douglas Costa, with six. Six goals and eleven assists at the highest level for a nineteen year old is a wonderful return, and his achievements not only have him going to Euro 2016 with Didier Deschamps’ squad, but he could very well be in line with a starting berth for the host nation. The sky is the limit for him.
Written by Andrew Thompson