In the summer a nearly impossible task was awaiting Joshua Kimmich. At right-back he was supposed to replace club legend and world-class player Philipp Lahm. Kimmich had previously played in the position for the national team in the European Championship and the Confederations Cup. On club level he usually played in midfield or was deployed at centre-back under former manager Guardiola.
This led to doubts in the public opinion and between experts. Many fans demanded the signing of a trained right-back. From the club’s management Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stood by his side, who was convinced the youngster can play in that role and be Lahm’s successor.
Admittedly, Kimmich can’t fully fill the void as a newcomer, Philipp Lahm was simply too influential. The former Leipzig player is on the right path, however. Kimmich is showing similar abilities to a younger Lahm. He understands how to control the game from full-back, only Thiago is playing more passes per game. His passing accuracy of 87.6% underlines his vision and composure on the ball. He’s showing a big thirst for knowledge and strong morale.
His attacking mindset is important for Bayern’s play which needed some vitalisation this season. Kimmich has the most crosses in the league and with his number of key passes he’s second in the league only behind Gonzalo Castro. Especially the interplay with Corentin Tolisso has shown some interesting task sharing with several variations, challenging opposition backlines.
As a right-back his interplay with his attacking partner on the wing is essential. Kimmich has to work with a lot of different guys, that have totally different playing styles. He had the pleasure to combine with Thomas Müller, James Rodriguez, Kingsley Coman and Arjen Robben.
Especially with the young Alaba one could see how important a caregiver or experienced partner on the wing can be. An attacking player who helps out his defender, opens space for him and supports him in defence but also points out mistakes. Only because of that Alaba-Ribéry became an internationally feared left side. Kimmich doesn’t have that support. Making his performances all the more impressive. A permanent partner could help Kimmich make the next step.
Kimmich’s best performance in September was without question the home game against FSV Mainz. He assisted three goals, created eight chances and had 144 touches. After he slipped the ball through to Müller and Robben, he assisted the 4-0 through Lewandowski with a perfectly placed early cross. Against an admittedly poor attacking performance by the opposition he showcased all of his attacking potential and was involved in nearly every dangerous situation.
Against Paris, Kimmich was one of the better players in an overall overwhelmed Bayern team. From a 22-year old – unlike someone like Lahm – you can’t expect to lead the whole team out of the misery. However, the game also showed, that against the top wingers in the Champions League he’s still got some learning to do when it comes to defending. Especially in the balance between his attacking and transition back to defence is still room for improvement.
He’s 22 years old though, there is no reason to worry. If you have the work ethic and thirst of knowledge like Kimmich, these mistakes will only help. In the future if there’s a manager on the side line, who develops and utilises him better, big years will await the German international.
Links of the week
The ‘Mia san Mia’ Phenomenon – the personal side of Bayern Munich | Manuel Vering | Deutsche Welle
Switch on the lights: Heynckes a perfect fit to fix Bayern | Rick Joshua | Bayern Central
Jupp Heynckes is back but Bayern Munich remain in boardroom disarray | Raphael Honigstein | ESPN
Bayern Munich Face Vital Decision in How to Replace Carlo Ancelotti | Andy Brassell | Bleacher Report
Arrivederci Ancelotti: Bayern’s rocky road after Carlo | Rick Joshua | Bayern Central
Willem Hesselink: The original “Mr. Bayern” | Rick Joshua | Bayern Central
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