What if we just let our minds wander a little bit on the potential of Bayern Munich’s Fiete Arp?
Sure, he had ONE decent half in a meaningless friendly, playing against an English team in an American city, and surrounded by some players who won’t see first-team football in Bavaria again after this tour.
What if we let ourselves ponder the question, though: could Fiete Arp be the player Bayern has needed all my along? Okay, so you are already brimming with doubt and maybe fuming with anger, and probably experiencing a good amount of “WTF” vibes. But hear me out — and let your brain open up to something that you might struggle with at this time of year as a fan of Bayern Munich: hope.
Arp is a 19-year-old talent who was trapped in a wasteland the past two seasons at Hamburger SV — bouncing between terrific and disappointing performances depending on who, when, and where Hamburg officials wanted to comment on him. Surrounded by mediocre players in a lax environment and playing against middling competition (at least last season), Arp did not assert himself nearly as much as everyone would have liked. But that doubt and pessimism no longer matter. Maybe — just maybe — he’s on the path toward something great.
Last summer, it was already clear that Arp would have a future with Bayern Munich. The fact that he did not make the move then point proved in hindsight to be a misguided decision. Sure, Arp likely would have spent the year with FC Bayern II in the Regionalliga, but having a full year to be ingrained in the culture and environment of Säbener Strasse likely would have been more valuable than spending a lame-duck season with a club that was no longer interested in developing a talent that it knew was inevitably going to leave.
We certainly can “What if?” that decision to death, but Arp finally made the move this summer and has — at a minimum — displayed a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, and an overall desire for success. That early showing has been enough to impress team leaders like Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer.
Perhaps Arp was just the type of player who needed a change of scenery — a move to a place where pace, quick decision-making, absurd skill levels, and a dogged work ethic are evident not only on game days, but everyday in training. What if Arp was just a kid whose game needed that last kick of professionalism to raise his own level play?
In the months leading up to Arp’s eventual transfer we had heard all of the talk about what role he might fill: backup to the best no. 9 on the planet, Robert Lewandowski. And while Arp had some experience playing the wing, it was widely assumed that a secondary role for the Germany youth international would be as an attacking midfielder or second striker, not working outside on the flank.
Niko Kovac, a man who demands versatility from the players on his roster, however, broke the wheel on Arp early and started him as a left wing during his first “formal” action with the club against Arsenal.
With decent size and pace, along with a deft knack for scoring and what looks to be great vision, could Arp be the Swiss-Army-knife type of player that Kovac needs for depth along the front-line?
The early — extremely early — returns say “maybe,” which is much more than most thought just a few weeks ago when Arp’s name was buried behind Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard on the list of “important” Bayern Munich transfers.
As Bayern Munich continues its waiting game with Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi and Manchester City’s Leroy Sané, the chances seem to be growing slimmer that either player will make the jump to the Bundesliga. For Hudson-Odoi, his long-game leverage play against Chelsea seems to be working. The 18-year-old will likely receive the two things he wanted most: opportunity and a raise . . . mostly thanks to the lurking threat of a transfer to Bayern Munich.
As for Sané, his reported waffling might make him a better candidate for Anderlecht than Bayern Munich, but his future may be heading down the same route as Hudson-Odoi’s. By being linked to Bayern Munich, Sané might also have given himself enough leverage to get a raise and more playing time.
If those two scenarios play out that way, and both Sané and Hudson-Odoi stay with their current clubs, is Bayern Munich out of luck, or might the closing of two outside doors cause another one to open for an inside candidate?
What if I told you that for all of its recent bad luck, Bayern might just have unearthed a gem that it had previously been seeking in players like Sané or Hudson-Odoi? While it is too early to make a final determination, it is not hard to get excited about what we have just seen and to ponder what might be possible if Arp continues to evolve as a player and elevate his game higher.
So let your minds wander a bit and enjoy the following weeks, as we see whether Arp can develop into the valuable and versatile roster piece that Kovac requires. If he succeeds, Bayern Munich could be well-positioned to have a flexible and dynamic offense.
And if he fails? Then we would only be the victims of letting our brains be clouded with a little wonder and hope during a transfer window, where frustration and disappointment have been all too prevalent themes for the Bayern Munich fan base.