Niko Kovač at Bayern Munich. It’s the start of a new era for the record German champions with a man who spent two seasons of his playing career with Die Roten. While his two seasons as a player with Bayern weren’t the most fruitful, Kovač’s managerial pedigree speaks for itself, and he fits the job profile perfectly. He’s equal parts experienced, calm, composed, charismatic, and energetic. Kovač is also no stranger to the Bundesliga, having helped Eintracht Frankfurt avoid relegation in 2016 before guiding them to an eighth place finish last season — not to mention winning the DFB-Pokal over Bayern 3-1.
Kovac has had a look at a portion of the squad over last few days as Bayern’s summer training has begun for the players not involved in the World Cup. For most players, especially new boys Serge Gnabry and Leon Goretzka, it’s a clean slate and a fresh start to make an impression on Kovač. For others, it will be interesting to see how they adapt and respond to new systems being thrown at them, especially for some of the more established players in the squad.
That said, we at Bavarian Football Works decided to take a look at the players we’re most excited to see under Niko Kovač.
Tom Adams: Kingsley Coman
I desperately hope Coman is able to stay fully fit for the majority of the season because I think he can be such a deadly weapon under Kovač. His pace on the wing could perfectly fit a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 system; both of which Kovač prefers over the 4-3-3 that we so often saw Jupp Heynckes deploy. David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich would ideally be deployed as the primary wing-backs and with Coman playing on either the right or left in the front three. The attacking nature of the 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 suits Coman’s strengths and I really feel that he’s one player that can really shine. Having either of those setups would give him so much license to do what does best; attack and take defenders on.
Chuck Smith: Thomas Müller
Thomas Müller is at the crossroads of a brilliant career, but not because he’s an abject failure or a detriment to the team. Under Niko Kovač, Müller must find a way to impact the game from wherever Kovač deploys him. He cannot just play the role of facilitator, but also must regain his own hunger for scoring goals. I’d assess Müller’s season in 2017-2018 as very successful, but his talent level and class indicates that he should — and can — do more. Most effective in the center of the field, Müller has often found himself manning the wing out of necessity. If Kovač can use Müller as an attacking midfielder who is free to roam and capitalize on the space left open by the opposition, I think the Croat can help unlock the best of Müller this season.
Ben Erwin: Sebastian Rudy. My initial reaction when considering this question was a combination of Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso, who I feel will flourish under Niko Kovač’s tutelage. A more direct and aggressive style of play will suit the skill-set of Bayern Munich’s youngsters and make for more exciting play.
But I had a change of heart. (Hot take incoming...maybe?) This is going to be the year of Sebastian Rudy. Yes, Rudy struggled after the ousting of Carlo Ancelotti and even found himself left out of match day squads. Despite the slow start to his career at the Allianz, and (premature) exit rumors, Rudy is an ideal Kovač player: aggressive, direct and energetic.
Although, Javi Martinez will pressure Rudy for the holding midfield position, Rudy will play an integral role if Bayern are going to unleash their wealth of attacking talent in the midfield and attack. Much in the same way he did under future RB Leipzig boss, Julian Nagelsmann, Rudy will screen the back line and make incisive passes up the field. His energy and defensive ability will enable Bayern to press and trap the opposition as both Nagelsmann and Kovac like to do. In the organized, team-oriented defense, Rudy will empower Tolisso, Goretzka, James Rodriguez and (god-willing) Renato Sanches to operate higher up the pitch, with creative freedom.
The midfield remains crowded, especially with Thiago and Arturo Vidal on the roster (for now...maybe). Rudy is the perfect fit in Kovac’s system, whether he employs a back-3 or back-5, the 28-year old regista will find his stride.
Mike Lynch: Thomas Müller: Probably the most enigmatic player on the roster, if not in the entire Bundesliga, there is no denying his talent, especially in the area of spacial awareness and overall feel for the game. Those attributes will endear him to the new skipper and if there’s one thing Niko Kovač knows, it’s how to get to most out of players like Müller.
Jake Fenner: Niklas Süle and Corentin Tolisso. I picked both because both players will have been led by their third different manager since joining the club last summer. Three managers in one year can be head spinning, especially with three different styles. Ancelotti’s 4-2-3-1 saw varied use for Süle but a fair share of caps for Tolisso. Once Jupp Heynckes stepped in, the 4-3-3 and reliance on veterans cut down on both players time. Now, with a possible 3-5-2 under Niko Kovač, which could implement wing backs, both players time could be drastically cut. Süle is being touted as Germany’s next great center back, while Tolisso could be the defensive midfielder of Bayern’s future. Only time will tell how these two adjust to the tactic of the new boss.
Let us know what player(s) you’re all most excited to see play under Kovač in the comments section. Mia San Mia.