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The continued evolution of Philipp Lahm and David Alaba towards footballing perfection

Philipp Lahm and David Alaba are evolving as players. They may be the first of the next generation of players.

Martin Rose

In July of 2013, Philipp Lahm was considered the best right back in the entire world - and there was almost zero debate of that opinion. Fast forward one year, and we see that the 30-year-old has completely reinvented himself, playing as a deep lying distributor as Bayern Munich's midfield metronome, recycling possession and pushing the offense forward, while giving Toni Kroos the kind of creative freedom he had only dreamed of.

Fast forward three months - Xabi Alonso has come into this Bayern Munich side and reinvigorated a team with his play. His ability to fulfill both the Toni Kroos creative play and the midfield metronome duties of Philipp Lahm have pushed the Bayern captain out of the position he made his own last year.

No big deal. Philipp Lahm just reinvented himself as a box-to-box midfielder.

Or as a centerback in a 3-man backline despite that fact that he's the size of Bilbo Baggins.

Philipp Lahm has long been one of the most tactically astute players in the world. Guardiola recognized it almost immediately when he came to Bayern Munich. So much so, that not only did Guardiola give Lahm the midfield metronome single pivot position (after not having made a midfielder appearance in a decade), but also played him as a central attacking midfielder at points last season.

However, it's not just Philipp Lahm that Guardiola has redefined. On the opposite side of midfield, David Alaba has also seen the same development. Shifting all over the Bayern Munich pitch, the 21-year-old Austrian has become a dynamic box-to-box midfielder in the middle, while also shelling out highly capable performances in the Bayern Munich 3-man backline. That's to say nothing of his ability from the left back position that he claimed as his own at the age of 19.

Coupled with Alaba's performances for Austria as their central playmaker, a pattern begins to emerge for Bayern Munich's two "newest" midfielders. Their game is developing a far more offensive bent than it previously saw while they're still being asked to retain their defensive ability at the drop of a hat.

Now, Philipp Lahm and David Alaba have evolved from the best fullbacks in the world into fully fledged jacks-of-all-trades. However, unlike most players that are solely serviceable at all positions, rather then being great at any one, they have quietly turned in performances worthy of the phrase world-class at every position. They are seemingly the first of a new generation of players - the complete players - capable of playing anywhere on the pitch, at anytime, with zero drop in ability.

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