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The reasoning behind playing Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich in midfield

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Even though the 24-year-old is one of the best right backs in the world, Löw has his heart set on playing him at the “6”.

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At first glance, it would be an easy choice to play Joshua Kimmich as a right back for the national team. When he does so for Bayern Munich, he contributes so much to the team charging down the right and setting up his teammates. That’s why so many are questioning Jogi Löw’s decision to throw Kimmich in the midfield as Germany’s 6. Articles from Sport1 and Süddeutsche Zeitung have specific reasoning behind this move that allows us to see into the mind of the national coach. Sport1 writes,

The fact that the number 6 has been assigned to him now shows that Löw plans to play Kimmich in the defensive midfield for the future. Notwithstanding the fact that he has developed into one of the best right-backs in the world for Bayern and he’d replace well-known players at his new position in midfield. However, Löw especially appreciates his already strong leadership qualities, which are more effective in the center than on the outside.

That’s an interesting proposition. The question is, however, whether the effectiveness of Kimmich’s leadership outweighs the fact that he’ll no longer be tearing it up on the right? Just look at Philipp Lahm. Besides the time that Pep Guardiola tried him out in midfield, he was always a right-back, and even once played left-back for Germany. Even Guardiola mainly played Kimmich in defense. Anyone will tell you that Lahm was a great captain — and Kimmich isn’t even the current captain — so why do this now? SZ writes,

The national coach is already aware that Kimmich doesn’t need to acquire the role of captain, because that leadership is already a part of his nature. When Joachim Löw dared to look ahead to the tournament in the peaceful days leading up to the World Cup in Russia, he saw two things aptly predicting that, he said, there would then be a change and a new team — “led by Kimmich and Co”.

If this is Löw’s thinking, then it is hard to discern who the next captain will be. Manuel Neuer is only getting older, so it’s time to think about leadership in the future. The best candidate is Kimmich, but apparently, he’s so good that he doesn’t need an armband. So who does that leave?

If you remember back to the Confederations Cup, Kimmich was in the team, but Julian Draxler was captain. Unfortunately, we can’t see that possibility happening right now, because of Draxler’s current hamstring injury that’s keeping him out of selection.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter who wears the captain’s armband. If you have natural leaders like Kimmich, it shouldn’t matter who gets it. That, of course, doesn’t mean that anyone is officially endorsing Marcel Halstenberg for the position.

But what exactly are those “amazing” leadership qualities Kimmich possesses? According to Julian Brandt:

[He’s my] biggest critic. He’s always kept me busy. He always gives 100% and is always willing. He’s snappy, and shows it with his body language, and gets on everyone. He has that expectation that every player should be like him.

With that mindset, it shouldn’t matter where Kimmich plays. As long as he can shout loud enough, he could be just as effective from the right.