We all know that rankings and lists are subjective and often miss the mark. Goal, however, did not just sit back and get lazy with its selections for its Top 50 footballers list for 2020. The publication did a strong job of identifying the world’s best performance for the 2019/2020 season.
Among the 50 players listed (25 men/25 women), were seven selections from Bayern Munich on the men’s side. The Bayern Munich Frauen did not feature any players on the list, but Germany and Paris Saint-Germain star Dzsenifer Marozsan was No.4 on the women’s side, while former Wolfsburg legend and current Chelsea stalwart Pernille Harder was ranked No.1.
The selections were made based on player performances from the 2019/2020 season. The Bayern Munich-related players listed were as follows:
21. Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer helped redefine the role of a goalkeeper, but he has had plenty of doubters over the past couple of years. His status as Germany’s first-choice shot-stopper has come under intense pressure from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while Bayern Munich signed Alexander Nubel in January to challenge for the No.1 jersey at the Allianz Arena.
Neuer, though, responded in stunning fashion by helping his club win a treble, with Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel praising the 34-year-old for taking “the goalkeeping game to a new level” with his heroics in the Champions League final.
20. Alphonso Davies
Joshua Kimmich admitted to being “almost ashamed” to scoring from Alphonso Davies’ outrageous assist in Bayern Munich’s demolition of Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals. It really was Davies’ goal, with the Canadian sending social media into raptures with the way in which he showcased his fancy footwork and blistering pace by utterly bamboozling Nelson Semedo. It will not be the last time that the winger-turned-defender embarrasses an opponent either as Davies is only 20 and already well on the way to establishing himself as the best rampaging left-back the world has seen since Roberto Carlos.
16. Serge Gnabry
It is just under five years since Tony Pulis claimed that Serge Gnabry was not at “the required level to play games” for West Brom. Now, the German is being touted as ‘the new Arjen Robben’ after matching the legendary Dutchman’s best-ever haul for Bayern Munich by netting 23 times in 46 appearances during a tremendous treble triumph. Former Arsenal man Gnabry was particularly decisive in the Champions League, scoring five of his nine tournament goals in the knockout stage, including a double in the semi-final win over Lyon.
12. Thiago Alcantara*
Wayne Rooney was desperate to see Thiago Alcantara play in the Premier League. But the former Manchester United and Everton forward was terrified by the prospect of the Bayern Munich ace joining English champions Liverpool. It is easy to understand why. As he proved during Bayern’s treble triumph, Thiago is one of those rare talents who combines industry with innovation. That makes him a joy to watch but a nightmare to play against. As Mason Mount admitted after Thiago ran rings around Chelsea in the Champions League, “I couldn’t get near him!”
11. Joshua Kimmich
Is there anything Joshua Kimmich cannot do? The Germany international did not just play as a defensive midfielder during Bayern Munich’s treble-winning campaign, he was also occasionally deployed at center-back and right-back. Even still, he contributed seven goals and 15 assists to the Bavarians’ cause, and created more chances than any other player in the 2019-20 Champions League. It’s no wonder, then, that Jose Mourinho recently told DAZN: “I see Kimmich as a top right-back, left-back, center-back, No.6, No.8, No.10... He has the qualities to be anything he wants to be!”
9. Thomas Müller
Joachim Low effectively concluded that Thomas Müller’s time at the highest level was over two years ago, when he ditched the attacking midfielder after a dismal World Cup campaign.
Luckily for Bayern Munich, that was not a view shared by Low’s former right-hand man, Hansi Flick, who found a key role in his starting line-up for the famed ‘Space Interpreter’ after succeeding Niko Kovac as the Bavarians’ coach last year. Müller responded with 12 goals and a whopping 25 assists during the second treble triumph of his trophy-laden career and is now being hailed as “the most extraordinary player in German football history” by Jupp Heynckes.
1. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski says he can continue playing until he is 40 – and who would really argue otherwise? At the age of 32, the prolific Pole has reached his optimal level. The striker scored a staggering 55 goals in 47 games during Bayern Munich’s treble-winning campaign, finishing as top scorer in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League.
Nobody else even came close to matching those numbers in 2020 – not even Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi – making Lewandowski a most worthy recipient of his first Goal 50 award. Indeed, given it has been such a tough year for everyone across the world, Lewandowski’s belated and surprise ascent to the summit of world football feels very timely.
“Never stop dreaming,” as the man himself said after becoming a European Cup winner for the first time. “And never give up.”
*Obviously, because Thiago spent the 2019/2020 season with Bayern Munich, we’ve included him in this grouping even if he is now over at Liverpool.
Some other Bundesliga notables that were included were:
Sure, in the end, this list could be debated and picked apart (I imagine from Premier League and La Liga folks are getting tight over it). Maybe Davies is too high and Neuer is probably too low, but it was refreshing to see Thomas Müller with a “Top 10” showing and Lewandowski recognized as the game’s “best player” — as part of Bayern Munich’s strong overall contingent.
For years, it seems, those two players have been criminally under-appreciated globally. For Müller, especially, the memories of being shunned by Carlo Ancelotti, Niko Kovac, and the Bayern Munich front office (by proxy), have to have softened a bit with some global recognition.
Müller would never admit that publicly, but he surely must feel at least a little vindicated. The same could be said for Lewandowski, who would likely have monuments built for him if he played for Manchester United or Real Madrid.
Regardless, good for the Bayern Munich players to be recognized for their respective feats and achievements during the 2019/2020 season.