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Bayern Munich close to adding a young German defender, but is it the right one?

The defending champions are reportedly trying to make their strong defense much better. Are they adding the right piece?

Brazil v Germany - Final: Men's Football - Olympics: Day 15 Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Central defense is not exactly a position of need for Bayern Munich.

I mean, they possess Germany coach Joachim Löw’s center back partnership. Heck, Carlo Ancelotti even felt comfortable with the club sending a former German international out on loan until the end of the season.

Nonetheless, the defending Bundesliga champions are reportedly close to adding a big defensive piece in the summer. According to reports, Bayern have already reached an agreement with Hoffenheim defender Niklas Süle on a five year deal after rejecting an offer from English Premier League leaders Chelsea.

But Süle, 21, is not the only attractive young German defender Bayern could try to recruit. Jonathan Tah, who is just five months younger than Süle, has also impressed in his second season with Bayer Leverkusen.

So for a team that is trying to recruit the best talent in the world – preferably ones from Germany now that Uli Hoeness is back at the helm – are Bayern picking the right defender?

FC Barcelona v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - UEFA Champions League
Jonathan Tah has already faced top clubs in his career and held up well for a young player.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Tah is the one who made his professional debut when he was just 17 with Hamburg. Tah is the one who was part of Germany’s squad for the European Championship when Löw could have decided the Olympics would be better for him. Tah is the one who has played in the Champions League and in a German Cup quarterfinal.

Yet Süle is the one Bayern seem to be going for. Don’t get me wrong; Süle would be a big fish for Bayern to catch, too. Though he was just 20, he was one of Horst Hrubesch’s starting defenders for Germany at the Olympics and has been integral to Hoffenheim’s defensive success.

But Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann has certainly taken pressure off of Süle as he develops. Fielding players like Benjamin Hübner, Kevin Vogt and Sebastian Rudy allows Süle to be more aggressive. That aggressiveness only works in Nagelsmann system though, which is why, at times, he has struggled with the national team.

Tah, on the other hand, plays in Roger Schmidt’s high-line system, which really puts his defensive skills to the test. He often has to recover and chase down forwards, an attribute he has become very good at. Losing Omer Toprak to Borussia Dortmund in the summer – something Toprak confirmed Thursday in Orlando – will not be such a big blow considering Tah is the one playing most of the matches anyways.

App. Tackles* Interceptions* Fouls* Clear* Passes* Pass % Long passes* Long pass %
Niklas Süle 15 2.0 1.9 0.4 2.7 65.3 89.6 3.5 59.8
Jonathan Tah 13 2.7 2.3 0.8 2.9 52.9 82.6 2.9 48.1

*per game
**statistics via

The two are very different defenders though. Tah tends to dribble a lot, and sometimes too much. Süle’s passing is already strong, but his aerial play leaves something to be desired. Considering Bayern have paired Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels with each other, Süle seems like the better fit, but Tah is arguably the better defender of the two young Germans.

But the choice between the two may have much more to do with who is available rather than who is better. Süle has a contract until June, 2019 and, if reports are to be believed, has a seeming desire to join Bayern. Tah, on the other hand, has a contract until June, 2020 and, with the departure of Toprak in the summer, Leverkusen will be very reluctant to sell one of their best young assets.

They are both good players right now. They both have very bright futures ahead of them. In the end, the center of their defense is pretty well secured, but the choice between Süle and Tah could be one we look back on with our hands stroking our chins as we wonder if it was the right one.

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