Bayern Munich’s academy is nothing short of legendary. Producing the likes of Thomas Muller, David Alaba, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, and most importantly Sandro Wagner, the fabled academy has helped usher generational players into the modern game. This tradition of excellence is not merely a modern phenomenon as Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Philipp Lahm, and Bastian Schweinsteiger spent their formative years in the Bavarian youth ranks.
In the age of big money transfers, the Rekordmeister has demonstrated its commitment to building from within in addition to shrewd transfer dealings. The most conspicuous example of this commitment came in the form of a new €70 million youth facility, the FC Bayern Campus, completed a little over a year ago. The Bayern brass expressed an expectation that the investment would generate results, and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić has indicated a desire to leave room on the first team for worthy youth prospects. Salihamidzic has actively pursued additional youth players in the last months, and Die Roten have quite a few promising starlets plying their trade in Munich.
So, who will be the next wunderkind to break into the first team?
Throughout the coming campaign I plan to dive into the unknown that is evaluating youth talent. I will be profiling the Rekordmeister’s most promising academy players, providing a rundown of their background, style of play, statistics, highlights, and, most importantly, whether or not they’ve got what it takes to cut it at the Allianz Arena.
In the first edition of “Bavarian Wunderkind Watch,” I will highlight a more mainstream commodity who is on the cusp of taking the next step. This campaign may be too early, but as the legendary attacking duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are phased out of the first team, Oliver Batista Meier may be laying the groundwork for a future at the Allianz Arena.
Oliver Batista Meier
Position: Left Wing
Background: The young German of Brazilian descent is widely regarded as one of the most promising talents among the Bayern youth. He arrived in the Bavarian capital in the summer of 2016 from Kaiserslautern for a fee around €400,000. Since his arrival, he has featured for both the U-17s and U-19s, putting in impressive performances in junior Bundesliga competition and abroad in the UEFA Youth League.
Meier’s exploits have not gone unnoticed by the Bayern brass: he earned a professional contract this summer and recently made his Regionalliga debut as a substitute for Bayern II.
The German youth international quickly outgrew the U-17 ranks during the 2017/18 campaign, contributing an astounding 20 goals and 12 assists in 20 matches. He found similar success in U-19 competition, putting up eight goals and two assists in 18 performances. The crafty winger extended this dominance to European competition, scoring two and assisting three goals in five matches in the UEFA Youth League (TransferMarkt).
Thus far in the 2018/19 campaign, Meier has featured for both the U-19 squad and Bayern II, scoring two and assisting three in six appearances. As the 17-year-old play-maker transitions to the Regionalliga, it remains to be seen if his physical tools can meet the demands of a higher level of competition. His statistical output, however, indicates that he has the quality to show his worth.
The young starlet’s Brazilian roots seem to play a major role in Meier’s style of play. Although he operates on the left side of the pitch, his creativity drives him into open spaces in and around the box. In fact, he is able to operate effectively across the front three.
This creativity, coupled with pace and and sound technical abilities, has allowed him to excel in the youth ranks. He has demonstrated an ability to not only finish his own chances, but also to create chances for his teammates. He possesses a soft first touch, can pick out a pass, and moves intelligently off the ball. His awareness and skill makes him a “man among boys” as he beats defenders and carves up defenses at will.
Look no further than his five-goal performance last September as an example of his elite technical ability:
The only question regarding the young winger’s ability to make the jump is that of his physical attributes. Although his pace has served him well in the youth ranks, building strength and filling out his small frame are key to his future development. Standing at 5’10’’ with a slight build, Meier may lack the physicality to cut it in the more rough-and-tumble Regionalliga. His creativity and awareness alone will be significant tools in helping him to cope with more athletic opposition, but he could be swallowed up by bigger defenders in the mold of Lars Lukas Mai.
Despite his need to develop physically, Meier has technically already outgrown the youth ranks. If he is to realize his potential, a role on Bayern II will be vital. If he can cope with the physical demands of this next step at only 17, it may be only a matter of time before the young playmaker is filling the shoes of Franck Ribery.
Next Up: Joshua Zirkzee
I hope to continue profiling youth player’s on a consistent basis throughout the campaign. If you would like to have a specific player profiled let me know in the comments below.