Well, it’s happening again guys. Joshua Kimmich, the best right back in the world (no Liverpool fans, it’s not Trent Alexander-Arnold) wants to go back to playing in midfield. We all knew this day would come, but no one expected the Bayern coaching staff to actually let it happen.
Kimmich has made his preferred position loud and clear (Sport Bild via TZ):
On the pitch, I can exert more influence in midfield, I’m closer to my teammates and also have more contact with opponents. I can influence the game much more from there.
A quick reminder: this is the guy that, last year, got almost as many assists as Jadon Sancho while playing as a defender. Joshua Kimmich’s offensive influence cannot be understated — at right back, he is akin to prime Marcelo as far as creativity is concerned. However, Josh was originally a midfielder, and when he transferred to Bayern all the way back in 2015, he came expecting to play as a midfielder.
After years of taking game time wherever he could get it, something has changed in the last few months. Niko Kovac made Joshua Kimmich part of the 6-man team council, putting him almost on par with senior players like Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, and Robert Lewandowski. Josh’s position as a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room has been well documented for some time now — but this increasing influence has potentially come with certain other privileges.
Now this might sound conspiratorial, but Kimmich loudly criticized Niko Kovac in the dressing room following Bayern’s 2-2 to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga opener. Since then, Kimmich has played exclusively in midfield, with Benjamin Pavard filling in at right back.
We cannot speculate on whether the change in Kimmich’s position has anything to do with Kovac’s standing within the team, but we should also remember that Kimmich was listed as a midfielder when Bayern submitted their squad for the Champions League group stages. Doesn’t that suggest some movement behind the scenes?
Maybe we’re reading too much into it, but Kovac DID start Kimmich in midfield in one of the biggest games of the season — RB Leipzig away. Even if he plays at right-back against Red Star tonight in the Champions League, that may not put an end to the debate.