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Tim Walter cites contradiction behind Bayern Munich’s youth program

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The former U-23 coach thinks Bayern’s focus on winning leaves little scope for developing academy players for the first team.

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Tim Walter, who recently left his post as Bayern Munich U-23 coach, had offered several critical observations about Bayern’s youth program and its development goals, highlighting a contradiction between the club’s focus on titles and the goal of developing professional players.

Bayern President Uli Hoeness asserted that the major objective of the Youth Talent Center, opened in 2017, was to help the Bayern youth players reach the first team—whereas the last player to do so was David Alaba in 2010.

First and foremost, however, Walter views Bayern’s youth academy very much as a work in progress:

The appeal and the possibilities are there, definitely. We have just now set the thing up. A period of adjustment is now necessary.

In particular, Walter criticized the club’s ongoing focus on winning titles as conflicting with the ideal of productive academy that guides players up through the ranks to the first team:

Bayern Munich have not developed a completely thought-out plan with respect to where they want to go with their youth. At the moment, the most important thing for the club—I believe—is to win championships. Players are also, however, supposed to develop into professionals.

Walter cited Franck Evina and Lars Lukas Mai as academy products who successfully won playing time with the professional team, but he argues that it will be difficult for many Bayern youth players to reach the first team. According to Walter, Bayern need to find a better solution than the Regionalliga (a third-tier below the 1st Bundesliga) for the development of youth players.

The third league is not enough for Bayern players who want to make it to the pros. The club has to find a solution so that they play at the appropriate level: the 2nd or 1st Bundesliga.

One such solution is loans: “It is not possible to integrate so many players at the top permanently,” Walter argues, but there is “a lot of potential for training players for other clubs.” But in such cases, Bayern will have to “always keep your fingers crossed or make sure you have a buyback option.”

As for his own future, Walter thinks he has the experience and qualifications for the top flight of the Bundesliga, especially for a team with a strong youth academy, looking for a shepherd to guide their flock of prospects to the pros:

I know that I’m a good coach, I’ve proved that. If you’re looking for a head coach and you have a good youth development program, it’s very important that you take a coach who also has an affinity for youth football. Julian Nagelsmann and Christian Titz are good examples, I also see myself as an educator, and I believe I know what it takes to make it as a professional.