Bayern Munich’s center-back Mats Hummels did not make the squad against SL Benfica for the Bayern’s 5-1 Champions League victory. He was sick. But it is open to doubt whether he would have played regardless. Hummels is reportedly one of three players who are at odds with coach Niko Kovac, and Hummels’s situation is arguably the most difficult.
A report by kicker (via AZ) claims that Mats Hummels, James, and Sandro Wagner are part of a “faction” at Bayern Munich opposed to Kovac. James and Wagner are upset over playing time. James has played less than he would like, although injury has also played a part, while Wagner has seen the pitch the least, largely because Kovac has not had the luxury of resting Robert Lewandowski.
Hummels has also lost minutes this season, and his relationship with Kovac is reportedly tense. A SportBild article earlier this season presciently explained “Why Mats Hummels could become a problem,” revealing that Kovac was critical of Hummels’s slow speed and had instructed Kevin-Prince Boateng to play long balls to Ante Rebic on Hummels’s side of the pitch, helping Eintracht Frankfurt beat Bayern to win the DFB Pokal.
Hummels’s performances this season have not helped his case. According to kicker, “The central-defender has lost a lot of credibility with the bosses, as well as with the team.” His poor showing in Dortmund and statements to the press afterward were not well received within the club. Hummels had deflected blame and seemingly criticized Kovac for having him play while sick.
A minor slip by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic may be connected to Hummels’s and the club’s mutual dissatisfaction. In the course of defending himself for keeping a very low profile, Salihamidzic suggested that Bayern may indeed be considering winter transfer activity. Brazzo told the media,
Why should I defend myself? I’m doing enough work in the background. We have things to do. We’ll do a few things — in the winter, in the summer.
In the winter? Kicker (via TZ) believes Bayern is keeping a very close eye on the market in particular because of Hummels. While it is highly unlikely that Hummels himself would transfer elsewhere, the club could potentially seek a young defender to replace him. Kovac has partly been shackled by Bayern’s lack of depth in the central defense, in which Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Niklas Süle are the only natural options.
Whatever you may think of Mats Hummels the center-back, Mats Hummels the man deserves your utmost respect. Hummels has always been an outspoken advocate of charitable causes. In addition to being a founding member of the Common Goal charity, Hummels has been a Unicef ambassador for several years. Today he proudly shared photos from a village in Malawi that has benefited from a telethon he supported after visiting it last year.