We all know him and we all respect him. He’s our Kapitän and our leader. He is Manuel Neuer. No one will dispute the immense role he has played for FC Bayern Munich since his controversial transfer from Schalke in 2011. But recently Neuer’s role at the club in the future — both in the long and short term — has become a hot topic in light of Bayern’s signing of Schalke goal-keeper Alexander Nübel.
There is no doubt that Nübel is the future of FC Bayern. The transfer saga revolving around his transfer finally came to a preliminary conclusion when Bayern announced that he would join the club on a free transfer, signing a 5-year deal starting July 1st, 2020. But this is where things get tricky. The question then becomes what Bayern will or should do and what should Neuer do.
Joshua Tobolt: a good signing but a bad move
I for one think that the timing of this transfer is a bit strange. Don’t get me wrong — Nübel is a very talented young goalkeeper. However, I still fall into the camp of those who believe Manuel Neuer is among the top 5 keepers in the world, even going as far as saying he is arguably in the top 3 given his play over the past year. The frustrating aspect of this entire transfer is the fact that Bayern has already confirmed that Nübel would not be loaned out, as reported by BILD’s Christian Falk:
The goalkeeper case at @FCBayern: the club doesn‘t plan a loan of Alexander Nübel. The Situation between Neuer and Nübel will be the same like @Manuel_Neuer vs @mterstegen1 in the national-team. There is competition— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) January 4, 2020
I think that is a questionable decision on a generally good move. Nübel is young and needs to develop. In order for him to develop, he needs to play. He’s also nowhere near Neuer’s current level of skill and ability. While there needs to be an eye towards the future, and Nübel is large part of that future, it hurts Bayern by having Nübel play against Neuer’s will, that runs the risk of aggravating Neuer even further. Nübel needs much more playing time than what he will get at Bayern, and the front office risks stalling his development by keeping him behind Neuer.
Jake Fenner: Neuer needs to face reality
For my money, Alexander Nübel represents the future of the already great German goalkeeping empire. He’s similar to Neuer in stature and is beginning to assert himself in goal for Schalke. The only problem is that he comes into a club with a goalkeeper situation that is set in stone, but only for the time being.
I can understand that Neuer is still feeling the sting with his rivalry with Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the top job with Die Mannschaft. He’s responded to that by having a banner year in goal for Die Roten. As a Bayern fan, I often struggle with Manuel Neuer’s ability to defy his age by proving his greatness. I keep waiting for him to get knocked down and not bounce back up.
That makes it difficult to understand the board’s decision not to loan Nübel or his future rival for the job, Christian Früchtl, to get more playing time. For both of these keepers, top playing time is exactly what they need to blossom into what Bayern (and Germany) hopes they can be. Look at it this way: Bayern no longer has just one amazing goalkeeper. They have an amazing keeper and two great prospects. For the club’s best interest, it’s important to make sure everyone plays and we can all have a happy future.
But there’s one person that will not allow that to happen: Neuer. He’s made comments in the last week to the effect that he will not sacrifice time in goal (even for friendlies) for Nübel. Of course, I understand why he’s fighting this. It’s been his net for years; it’s still his net. But like Oliver Kahn before him, he will eventually decline and move on. If he cannot face that fact and concede some time to the younger talent (even in friendlies), then Neuer may be the most selfish person in a room of egos like the Bayern locker room.
I’m not saying I don’t appreciate Neuer — that’s the opposite of what I think. I’m also not saying Bayern should sell Neuer, which would be a terrible idea. What I’m saying is that I’m a realist: it is possible to rotate keepers and, somehow, Neuer won’t let that happen. If Bayern can’t prepare for the future and help Nübel develop by sending him out on loan, then this is a waste of a signing. Let’s hope Neuer and the board can be convinced to think of this club’s future and take Nübel’s development seriously.