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Opinion: Mats Hummels did not leave Bayern Munich because he was afraid of competition

The argument that Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels left Bayern Munich because he was “scared to compete” is tired and lame.


Like us, you have probably heard the rumblings and claims that now Borussia Dortmund center-back Mats Hummels left Bayern Munich because he was “afraid” to compete for his job. Whether it was Robert Lewandowski’s commentary or the implications of Niko Kovac’s statements, the narrative that Hummels left Bavaria because he did not want to face-off with Niklas Sule, Jerome Boateng, Lucas Hernandez, or Benjamin Pavard is ludicrous.

Simply put, Hummels joined Dortmund because it was the move that was best for his career. It is one thing to be unwilling to compete, but it is something completely different when you analyze all of the implications of recent roster decisions — financial commitment, contract status, age, and just about everything else — in an effort to do what is best for your own career. Mats Hummels did not leave because he was intimidated; he left because he could not risk wasting away on the bench for a year at this juncture of his career.

These are the facts:

  1. Bayern Munich essentially hitched its cart to Niklas Süle for one center-back position in Kovac’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Süle is the other player in the recent verbal skirmishes over the best German defender — Süle or Hummels. Specifically, some considered Süle the “best German central defender” or “best German defender” or even “best husky German defender.” Whichever distinction anyone prefers to place on Sule, it is clear that he is a player who many have anointed as “the next ” great German defender. Süle is just 24 years old and is already a mainstay of Germany’s national team. With that distinction, Süle’s place in the Bayern Munich lineup is his to lose.
  2. Bayern invested over €80 million in Lucas Hernandez and another €35 million in Benjamin Pavard. Both players are just 23 years old, and both absolutely need playing time to live up to the investment that the Bavarians have made for them respectively. Both players will have ample opportunity to prove themselves in Munich. If you were Hummels, would you conclude that you would not lose playing time to those players — whether deservedly or not?
  3. Despite recent reports, Jerome Boateng’s status with Die Roten is still uncertain. Assuming that Hummels would be scared of competing with Boateng would be misguided at best.

Finally, let’s be real for a second: Hummels left because he needed to do what was best for his career. Already mocked by some in the media as too slow and dropped from Die Mannschaft (prematurely if you ask me) by Joachim Löw, Hummels would have been battling not only his teammates for playing time, but also the media and pundits, many of whom have chosen to ignore how good Hummels was down the stretch for Bayern Munich last season.

Heck, things got so absurd in this ordeal that even the Cathy Hummels chimed in to defend her husband. Clearly, this has all gone way too far.

Sure, being snarky and hiding behind social media accounts is en vogue these days, but at least be fair to a guy, who has been a true professional over the course of his career and who has actively been someone who is willing to interact with fans at a time where many athletes would rather interact with cyanide.

Mats Hummels didn’t leave because he was a coward. He left because he needed to find the best situation for his career — and that was no longer in Munich.

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