FC Bayern signs Benjamin Pavard
Pavard is still under contract with VfB Stuttgart until 2021, but has a transfer clause of 35 million euros there. He moved from Lille to the Swabians in 2016 and played 48 games in the Bundesliga, 21 in the 2nd Bundesliga and 2 in the DFB Pokal. The 1.86 m tall defender played twice as often as a central defender (56) compared to right defender.
As reported by Kicker, Salihamidžić was in contact with the former Munich squad planner Michael Reschke to facilitate the transfer. In addition the club is said to have already observed Pavard before the World Cup. Pavard is currently suffering from a torn muscle that he had suffered on the 14th matchday against Gladbach.
In recent years, FC Bayern’s central defence has been better staffed than almost any other team in Europe. In addition to Hummels and Boateng, Süle was brought in as a promising talent. But Hummels and Boateng in particular are not getting any younger. Already last summer, the Munich team tried to sign Pavard. Not least because of Boateng’s transfer wishes.
After a promising season at VfB Stuttgart and an outstanding World Cup the hype about the Frenchman was big. In his home country a Benjamin Pavard song even became the fan song of the tournament. However, his approach to the fast ascent showed that he can assess himself realistically. After the World Cup, he did not force his transfer, but was patient and humble.
Characteristics that are important for a young player at the record champion. As the ascents of Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman show, patience on all sides is the most important thing. Despite his recent successes, Pavard cannot be regarded as a finished player. And yet his potential is huge.
Pavard made a great impression in 2018, especially in the game with the ball. His build-up game not only stood out at VfB. The Frenchman also shone in the national team with a courageous and sure passing game. There he played mainly as a right-back, in 4 games of the UEFA Nations League he created 0.8 key passes per 90 minutes.
The flexibility to play on several positions also makes Pavard interesting for FC Bayern. If the 22-year-old plays on the right defensive side, Kimmich can move into midfield. Kimmich could be a strong and strategic upgrade as a six. Since Xabi Alonso’s departure, a creative anchor six has been missing in Munich. Thiago can play this role, but is then missing in higher zones as the structure-giving eight.
Nevertheless, Pavard’s main position should be seen in central defence. If Hummels and Boateng are left out of the future planning, FC Bayern so far only have Niklas Süle as their clear successor in the squad. Although Lars Lukas Mai is a great talent, it is unlikely that the Munich team will be plan with him as a member of the first team.
Süle’s strengths lie in his duel behaviour, his physique and his pass safety. Similar to the young Javi Martínez, the German international can perfectly protect a strong partner. In addition, he is very fast for his stature. However, Süle is not an outstanding build-up player. He is solid to good, but it is not foreseeable that he will ever reach the level of a Boateng.
All the more important is a type of player who has his qualities in the build-up game. Pavard has proven that he can constantly bring risky and vertical passes to his teammates. He is technically strong, intelligent and very agile. Besides Süle, he could take the next step in his development.
His passing accuracy is often between 80 and 85%. This is due to the risk on the one hand, but also to the way his teams play on the other. In Munich, this figure should rise again by a few percent. A big plus is that he rarely loses the ball. Apart from bad passes, Pavard in the league is only 0.5 times separated from the ball per 90 minutes. Thus he is at eye level with Niklas Süle (also 0.5/90 minutes), although he clearly had weaker teammates in Stuttgart.
We can hardly speak of weaknesses when it comes to new arrival. If he had clear weaknesses, he wouldn’t have moved to Munich for around 35 million euros. And yet there are points that the central defender can and must improve if he wants to assert himself with the Bavarians. The duel quota in particular can be improved. In the 2017/18 season Pavard was rightly praised. In comparison to the top defenders of the league, 58% won duels were still a bit too few.
This season it’s down to 55%. This is again due to weaker Stuttgart players and the fact that Pavard fell into a small slump after the World Cup. But for a young player this is completely normal. Boateng has a duel rate of 71% in the current Bundesliga season. Hummels (63%), Süle (68%) as well as Pavard’s teammates Kempf (61%) and Timo Baumgartl (71%) are also clearly ahead.
Pavard will have to prove in Munich that he can also enter these spheres. His speed and dynamism will help him. The coaching team’s task is to adapt his positional play to FC Bayern’s playing style and to develop it further in this direction. Here, too, there is untapped potential. Sometimes Pavard positions himself in zones away from the ball, without possession of the ball, a few steps too imprecise or too undisciplined.
It should therefore not be expected that Pavard can directly compensate the performance of Boateng or Hummel. The Frenchman will also have to go through a process in order to develop over time. There is often a tendency to lift young players directly into the spheres of aging stars. And in fact people forget that Boateng and Hummels don’t play as badly as is often portrayed.
This is shown not least by the most relevant statistics for a central defender (duel and pass rate, forward passes, turnovers and errors that led to chances). Everywhere Pavard is at eye level, mostly even a little behind the Bayern defenders. Boateng and Hummels had a complicated year, but their experience and potential for improvement should not be underestimated.
Few individual mistakes deceive the overall impression. FC Bayern will have to make sure that they defend more consistently as a team in order to minimise the potential for individual players to make mistakes. Pavard is nevertheless a clear signal for the future.
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Boateng were to dare a change of scenery in summer. The hole he would leave behind would be huge. Despite his small slump. Pavard has the potential to fill this hole in the long run. In the short term, expectations should be different.
The question is also how FC Bayern plans with him. The option of using Pavard as a right-back should not be categorically ruled out. Moreover, a Miasanrot analysis would not be a Miasanrot analysis if the back three were not at least mentioned. As a right half-back, Pavard with his dynamism could deliver great added value. Alabas dynamics on half left and Sule’s force in the middle could complete the chain of three.
It remains to be seen what happens to Hummels and Boateng. Contrary to the general mood in the country, their time has not yet expired. They will have to prove themselves again in 2019, but a comeback to the highest level is possible. If they both stayed beyond the summer, FC Bayern would have already completed their planning for central defence. If another one changes, the topics Hernández and de Ligt could become exciting again. The situation of Javi Martínez is also interesting, as he has not been able to fit into the profile as a six and is obviously not wanted as a centre-back. But that would deserve another analysis …