As previously reported here, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer broke his foot in training on Monday, re-injuring the same foot that knocked him out for months after last season’s devastating Champions League quarterfinal loss to Real Madrid.
The news today is even more sobering: the club confirmed that Bayern’s and Germany’s captain had surgery to insert a metal plate to repair the hairline fracture in his left foot, and will miss the rest of the calendar year.
Club CEO Karl Heinz Rummenigge:
We are really sorry for Manuel Neuer that he has suffered another injury. The surgery went perfectly, and that’s the most important part right now. We are now looking forward with our captain. Manuel will be available to us, in his usual form, in January.
This is a huge blow to the defending Bundesliga champions, who have ambitions to finally recapture the Champions League trophy after four disappointing finishes in Europe’s premier club competition.
Now, Sven Ulreich needs to earn his paycheck. This is exactly the situation for which Bayern hired him, and he will need to prove that he is still starting material. While there aren’t too many questions about his shot-stopping ability, the biggest change to the team will be the significant drop off in terms of controlling and quickly distributing the ball from the “sweeper-keeper” position, which Neuer has mastered.
The other area of concern is that, should anything happen to Ulreich in the coming months, Bayern will be forced to depend on 17-year old phenom Christian Früchtl, who is completely untested, even at the domestic league level. He may be the future of the club after Neuer hangs up his cleats, but would he be ready for the incredible pressure of playing for one of the top clubs in Europe now?
Last, but not least, this does not look good for the medical department at Bayern. There were already questions about why it took Neuer so long to come back from what was essentially a routine fracture. When the captain missed the Supercup, there were rumors floating around that something had not healed properly. Did the club doctors ignore warning signs and cleared him for duty? Or is this a completely unrelated injury that just happened to occur in the exact same spot on his body? The docs will surely be under increased scrutiny.