In an unfortunate end to his season, Jerome Boateng suffered an injury in Bayern Munich’s first leg defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. In the past few years, Boateng’s career has been plagued by injuries at incredibly inopportune times, and this year has proven to be no different. Boateng is expected to be fit for the World Cup, but he gave a telling interview (Socrates Magazin) in which he hinted that he might be ready to move on to another club for a new experience.
With Boeteng’s injury proneness, Hoffenheim signing Niklas Sule has stepped in to a lot of minutes this season and has proven himself to be a high caliber talent, whom Jupp Heynckes has pegged to be one of Europe’s top center backs in the near future. Sule’s proven ability alongside Mats Hummels and Boateng’s uncertainty over his future with Bayern raises a major question; should Bayern cash in on the veteran center-back and invest in a world-class replacement, or should they keep Boateng for at least another season?
Three of our contributors have their say:
Bayern should only sell Boateng on one condition and one condition only: Do they have a world-class center-back prepared to join the club this summer? Otherwise, the answer from me is a loud and resounding NO. If Bayern’s last five seasons have taught us anything, it’s that you can never have enough top-level center-backs in your squad. While Boateng should absolutely have to compete with Niklas Süle and Mats Hummels for the starting spot, there’s no way you can sell him without bringing in another elite center-back.
I still think Jerome Boateng is a terrific defender, a respected leader, and I honestly don’t hold his ample injury history against him—mostly because having three good center-backs in this system is a tremendous asset over the course of a season. There really is no good reason to sell, except that I just don’t think he wants to be here any more. Recent reports of Boateng openly questioning if he wants to “always prove myself at the same club under the same conditions?” tells me that he is ready to move on, perhaps to the Premier League for one last payday before he heads into the twilight of his career. At 29, he’s not exactly old by any means, but the wear and tear on his body has surely sped up the aging process, at least as far as it comes to soccer.
With two extremely talented center backs in Mats Hummels and Niklas Süle already rostered, the starting duo would be set if Boateng moved on. Süle appears to be on the verge of breaking through as a world-class talent, and Hummels already is one Lukas Mai has shown some ability on a limited basis and may be ready to step in as the third-wheel, while Bayern’s long-rumored interest in Dutch wunderkind Mattijs de Ligt indicates they may already have a post-Boateng contingency plan in place. In addition, if Javi Martinez stays on the roster, you could do worse than using him as a reserve center-back. Doing so would possibly open up some playing time in Bayern’s already crowded central midfield. Keeping players around who don’t want to here is never good for morale, and Boateng has earned the right to have at least a little say in where he wants to spend his future.
John N Dillon:
Boateng was deeply dissatisfied with Carlo Ancelotti’s regime, particularly after Ancelotti Benched him (for Javi Martinez) in the DFB-Pokal semifinal against Dortmund. But things have improved in 2017/18: he is again a non-negotiable starter alongside Mats Hummels and also stayed healthy for most of the season, playing a very respectable 2,621 minutes while enjoying significant rest between Champions League matches. He missed just a handful of early games at the beginning before suffering a serious adductor injury in the fateful CL semifinal against Madrid.
At 29 and a center-back, Boateng still could have several years of solid play ahead of him. His long balls to Bayern’s offense are a major (and probably underrated) asset. He is generally rock solid on defense, particularly when paired with Hummels. (Just because his mistakes are derisively labeled “Boafarts” doesn’t make them worse or more frequent than others.) All in all, Boateng is a very, very hard player to replace, and I think that’s what this question come down to. I like an elite three-man rotation of Hummels, Boateng, and Süle, with a player like Javi who could jump in for an injured teammate.
Boateng the man is deep. I’m not particularly surprised he’s asking himself if Bayern is all he wants out of his career. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. He also has said in the past that captaining Bayern Munich would be a “dream and honor.” It could cut either way. And in Bayern’s front office, at least Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been rather critical of Boateng (the “come back to earth” episode). If the two parties are reconciled, then I’m satisfied. But if one of them wants to part ways, I would only support the move if Bayern have a realistic replacement virtually locked up. A youth prospect like De Ligt or even Lars Lukas Mai doesn’t cut it. Is there anyone out there who could step into Boateng’s shoes (or Süle’s, if he becomes starter)? I’m not so sure, so I’d rather see Boateng carry on.