Julain Green is without a doubt one of the most interesting prospects in the Bayern Munich system. He burst into the Bayern Munich second team last year at the age of 18 and promptly eviscerated the Regionalliga Bayern, scoring 15 goals and bagging 8 assists in just 23 appearances. Prior to, and after that, he was given an extended run with the Bayern Munich first team during training. Those early experiences put him on Jurgen Klinsmann's radar for the USMNT and the rest as they say is history.
Now with another season ramping into high gear, Bayern Munich has loaned Julian Green out to fellow Bundesliga side Hamburger SV. Given his talent and the fact that Hamburg's current talent, coaching, front office, and general all-around being-ness is best characterized by pictures of an out-of-control tire fire, it's not unrealistic to expect Julian Green to play often for Hamburger SV in the upcoming season. But rather then just assuming based on the idea that where there's fire, there's the need for an extinguisher, let's take a look at the Hamburger SV attack and try to piece together what our expectations should be for Julian Green.
Central Attacking Midfield
It's not an all together surprising place to start given it's the easiest to eliminate. Julian Green hasn't played central attacking midfield as a professional and Hamburger SV spent a great deal on money to bring in Rafael Van der Vaart a few seasons back. While he's very loudly turned into a pumpkin being consumed from the inside by an over-zealous candle on a Halloween night, it wasn't long ago that he was one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. He's also 31 with a couple years of "good" football ahead of him. Expect him to see the majority of minutes for Hamburg here. Any extra minutes are going to fall to fellow loanee Lewis Holtby, who just two season ago was a really bright star in the Bundesliga. After an ill-fated move to Tottenham he's back for at least this year, and he could potentially give Van der Vaart a run for his playing time, which would be a good thing for Julian Green. If not Holtby will surely claim one of the wide midfield positions and that could become a problem for Green.
Right Attacking Midfield
It's hard to think that Julian Green will see minutes on the right side of attacking midfield, but I'm going to try anyway. Green has predominantly appeared on the left side of attacking midfield for Bayern Munich, but as given his pedigree and his natural right footedness, I'd expect Mirko Slomka to give him substantial run outs on this side of the field of play. To date, Slomka has opted to use Tolgay Arlsan, a former Dortmund youth product, on the right side. Last year Arslan scored 1 goal and provided 3 assists in over 30 appearances for Hamburg (which is about the level of offensive production one would expect from a Bundesliga centerback) to go along with an abysmal shots per 90 and key passes per 90. That's leaving aside the fact that he spent the majority of his career playing deeper then attacking midfield and this is his first test in attack. Considering Hamburg spent time to acquire Nicolai Müller from Mainz, it's clear they don't see Arslan as a solid long term investment on the right side. However, with Nicolai Müller not even having suited for Hamburg yet this season, it's a situation ripe for Julian Green to waltz in and steal valuable minutes.
Left Attacking Midfield
Left attacking midfield is where Julian Green cut his teeth with the Bayern Munich reserves and it's where he's predominantly played for them and for the United states national team. This is his bread and butter. It also happens to be the home of Ivo Illicevic who has started there for Hamburg in all of their matches this season. Last season he played second fiddle to the departed Hakan Calhanoglu but still found time to register 18 appearances and 3 goals. He's somewhat of an unknown quantity compared his to partner on the right flank and he'll certainly challenge Julian Green for the majority of the minutes available to them. It's certainly a more daunting proposition then taking away minutes from Torgay Arslan. The additional presence of Zoltan Stieber, an up and comer from Greuther Furth, as well as Lewis Holtby are going to be challenging prospects for Julian Green if he wants to play on his favored left side.
Despite having played striker once for Bayern Munich in the Champions League and a handful of appearances in the reserve levels, striker is almost completely off limits to Julian Green. Pierre Michel Lasogga is without a doubt the best player on this Hamburg side (Holtby is on loan so I'm not counting him) and with Artjom Rudnevs backing him up, there's more then enough quality on in this Hamburg strike force to keep Julian Green away from their minutes.
So, what should we expect?
In some ways it's really hard to predict what Julian Green will get out of this loan. There's lot of potential positions occupied by a whole series of question marks and a heaping pile garbage in this Hamburg side. Given his talent and his already impressive skills, it's extremely easy to believe there's a place for him to call his own, week-in and week-out, on this Hamburg side.
On the flip side, there's just enough talent that could suddenly bloom to force Julian Green to the bench. And the overarching and as-yet completely unanswerable question as to where will Lewis Holtby will fit into this team. And then of course, there's Mirko Slomka who's just enough of an enigma to factor into this conversation. All of that uncertainty is then further compounded by their performance so far this season.
Their opening two matches were against the two relegation promotees Cologne and Paderborn. Given Hamburg's form last year and Cologne's relative strength in the 2.Bundesliga, a 0-0 draw with Cologne was a decent result for a first match day. However, a 3-0 annihilation by Paderborn, who are appearing in their first ever Bundesliga rodeo, was a humiliating result that shows Hamburg that their better days are far behind, and far in front, of them. Hopefully, they'll let Julian Green make their days this season just a little bit brighter. Of course, that's only so he can make them much much darker a year from now.