Former Bayern youth product and now-TV-pundit Thomas Hitzlsperger has come out and put a damper on the Joshua Kimmich hype-train that has been building over the last five months.
Kimmich, 20, caught the eye of National team coach Jogi Low this season after a number of impressive performances at centerback for Bayern. After being selected for the provisional squad for the Euro 2016, Kimmich’s positional versatility and impressive performances helped him make the final roster. Now, after putting in a great shift at right-back against Northern Ireland, the rest of the footballing world is seemingly taking notice and heaping praise on the young man.
Except for Hitzlsperger.
“I think little of Kimmich, he’s overrated at Bayern.” he said to Zeit. “I’m surprised Kimmich is even playing. I thought that Howedes had been doing a good job so far.”
Even during half-time of the game against Northern Ireland, his backhanded compliment indicated his dismay of Kimmich. “Kimmich is playing very well. But he also doesn’t have to do any defending.”
Others don’t share the same sentiment.
Former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said, “Joshua Kimmich is a total enrichment to the team. Because of this, Thomas Muller is getting into the game better. The only thing missing now, is the goals.”
Another voice of support came from Benedikt Howedes himself, the man Kimmich replaced. A facebook post read:
“Joshua played great. It was the exact right move by the coach to play him. We were more dangerous going forward. We all have to keep an eye on the bigger goal and put our egos on the back burner.”
Classy move, Herr Howedes.
Looking ahead to the knockout stages, it seems clear to most that Kimmich should be the right-back going forward. His impressive play has even drawn comparisons to Philipp Lahm, though Kimmich doesn’t want to hear any of it.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Carlo Ancelotti uses the 20-year-old as the primary back up fullback next year, or if he’ll be stuck competing for minutes as a central midfielder, an area where he’ll have more trouble finding playing time due to the sheer number of capable players Bayern has there.