Youth Player of the Year 2017: Oliver Batista Meier
There are already first video footage from a time when the football that little Olli juggles is almost as big as he himself. He can be seen in a video on Youtube at the tender age of eight years, already in the jersey of the 1. FC Kaiserslautern. The German-Brazilian is quickly regarded as an outstanding talent of his year and is used early on in higher age groups. When the interest of FC Bayern became evident, he was only eight years old. When the interest of FC Bayern became concrete, he plays as an Under-15s player in the Under-16s team and is also in the older age group the most outstanding talent of his class. It is said that there had been a very close race with RaBa Leipzig in the bidding for Batista Meier, which made an extremely financially powerful offer. Rumors speak of a hasty signing of a contract on a Autobahn restaurant to get ahead of the Saxons. The side Transfermarkt. de lists a transfer value of 400,000€. Which sounds a little strange, because Batista Meier was not yet 15 years old when he reached an agreement with FC Bayern and therefore should not have had a youth contract in Kaiserslautern.
Despite the scheduled transfer, the red devils continue to promote their exceptional talent. About six weeks after his 15th birthday, he makes his debut in the club’s Under-17s team and scores three goals in six matches. Being born in 2001 and against players born in 1999, including one game against FC Bayern with coach Tim Walter, his future coach. When Batista Meier comes to Munich, everyone is enthusiastic about his outstanding abilities. But it is precisely his tactical behaviour that reveals shortcomings. Counterpressing and defensive work are still unfamiliar terms for him at the beginning. More often than any other name, spectators listen to coach Walter shout “Olli” in his incomparable way, when he stops or takes the wrong route. As his training performances at the beginning of the season are not sufficient, Batista Meier is only sitting on the bench at the start of the second game of the season. A little lesson he needed. Interrupted by an injury break, he plays a rather discreet first half of the season, but more and more he knows how to find the right balance. A balance between working for the team and using his own class.
In the versatile offense, Olli Meier, as he is called by the other players, sometimes also plays centre forward when Franck Evina moves to the wings. There he can show off his strengths in goal-scoring. But more and more he develops the ideal strengths for a winger. His space-opening dribbles from the half-field become a big weapon. In the game against VFB Stuttgart, Oliver Batista Meier scored the goal that gave FC Bayern’s Under-17s the South German championship title, along with the qualification for the final round of the German championship.
Always as the youngest player on the pitch, Batista Meier stands out in a strong team of the Under-17s of FC Bayern in the final round. He scores “only” one goal in the first leg of the semi-final, but in all games almost every promising attack runs through him. In the final against Werder Bremen, he assists a big chance to take the lead and himself fails twice in the second half against a strong opposing guest keeper. But even without a goal or an assists to his name, the team wins the final and becomes Germany’s Under-17s champions. At this point in time, everyone expected that he and the rest of the team would move into the Under-19s. FC Bayern’s official news that he was preparing for the U19 did not surprise anyone.
But although he also showed good performances in the Under-19s’ preseason, he appeared somewhat surprisingly on the team photo of the Under-17s and played there from the beginning of the season. What many fans prophesied then came to pass: An obvious underload. 16 goals and 7 assists in eleven championship games – as a winger – speak for themselves. Few opponents were able to slow him down when he played one of his irresistible solos in the half-spaces. Against his former club, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, he even put together a pack of five. He dominated the league so much that the club leaders did not get around revising their decision. Since the game at Celtic Glasgow, Batista Meier has been a regular member of the Under-19s squad, even though it is officially said “until the winter break, then a new decision will be made”.
Especially at this game in Glasgow he attracted the attention of the public for the first time, when he scored the winning goals with an unbelievable solo. In the Under-19s, his numbers are not quite as good as they were in the past, which is of course understandable due to the higher demands and the poor stretch of performances in which he entered the team. Especially with his back to the goal he shows clear deficits against the physically superior opponents due to his slight body structure. In the Under-19s he is confronted with these situations much more often than he was used to from the Under-17s. Nevertheless, even as a 16-year-old he is still able to make his mark in the Under-19s. Usually when he has a metre of space with the ball at his foot and body facing the goal. Then it is also difficult to stop him in the Under-19s, because he is dangerous in front of the goal as well as with his through balls.
Without a doubt, Batista Meier is currently the hottest iron in the youth forge of FC Bayern. But the leap into the physical football is not to be underestimated. Timothy Tillman is a very recent example of how an unbelievably dominant player in the Under-17s can stumble at the interface to men’s football. This phase requires not only training diligence, but above all clarity in the mind. Batista Meier will have to learn to appreciate the attention and its current status. He’s a great talent. No more and no less. This has not changed due to the occasional participation in the first team training and this will not change even if he travels to one of the next training camps with the first team.
He has already shown the right mentality this year. He did not let himself be unsettled by the decision to play for the Under-17s. He has proven to those responsible that the decision was wrong. If he succeeds in continuing to respond to sporting disappointments with performance, his chances are good. A challenge that many players fail to meet is to take on responsibility in teams for which they actually feel too good in terms of talent. This phenomenon is often seen in FC Bayern’s reserve team.
On February the 16th Oliver Batista Meier turns 17 years old. From then on, he would be eligible to play for the first team. It is not to be expected that Jupp Heynckes will use him immediately. But with a bit of luck, and depending on who will be the new coach, it is not unrealistic to see him in the professional squad in 2018. But only then will his most difficult task begin. To take the first moments with the professionals as an incentive to train harder every day and to improve. And not to fall for the belief that he had already made it. If he takes advantage of the time and then the opportunities to learn from the daily ambition of an Arjen Robben, he can still give us a lot of pleasure. But it’s still a long and stony road to go.