Since Bayern Munich hired Hasan Salihamidzic in 2017, the club has made some ambitious moves in the youth sector. After unveiling an expensive new youth campus, the Bavarians proceeded to fill their youth teams with some top-tier talent — culminating in the reserve team winning the 3.Liga last season despite being the youngest in the division.
A few of these players seemed poised to make inroads into the first team — Lars Lukas Mai, Sarpreet Singh, Chris Richards, Jamal Musiala, and Christian Früchtl all seemed cautiously ready to make the leap from the third to the first division as backups for Bayern’s star-studded lineup. However, this season, few of those players are still with the club, and the majority on loan or sitting on the bench every matchday.
The problem for these players is the depth the club has at every position: it’s hard to get considered when you’re the third-choice starter at any position. However, it doesn’t need to be this way.
On deadline day this summer, Bayern signed a number of depth pieces to fill out the squad. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Buona Sarr, Marc Roca, and Douglas Costa were all signed to serve as backups for players like Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, and so on.
So far, these players don’t seem to be living up to their billing, playing sporadic minutes and looking mediocre when they see the pitch. One must wonder if Brazzo made a mistake when signing them. Aside from Marc Roca, these guys are not young and not likely to get much better. The same can arguably be said of Javi Martinez, who’s an older member of the squad and set to leave next season.
Wouldn’t their minutes be better utilized by the youngsters from the reserve teams? Joshua Zirkzee is young and scored crucial goals. He has a lot of rough edges, but playing with the likes of Thomas Muller could iron them out. Chris Richards has been promising whenever he’s played at right-back — far better than the disappointing Sarr, and with plenty of potential to get even better with more minutes. Jamal Musiala, meanwhile, showed his quality against a team like Atletico Madrid, making a case for him to play over Juventus loanee Douglas Costa.
Of course, playing youth comes with its fair share of issues. Here’s a few of them:
- Young players are hit or miss, a miss more often than not. Hansi Flick risks a lot by playing them.
- The leap from the 3rd league to the 1st is probably a lot bigger than many fans realize.
- While they’re fine for rotation, you can’t exactly rely on them in the case of injuries. The older players come with a certain degree of experience.
However, when you have quality youth players like Bayern does, then there are plenty of pros as well.
- The young players seem more talented than their experienced seniors — they could easily surpass them if given a shot.
- Trusting a young talent as a backup can bring insane dividends. Alphonso Davies was trusted at left-back when Bayern hit a defensive injury crisis last year. He had a promising start and, owing to a lack of other options, quickly accumulated minutes and turned into a worldßclass player. Any one of the youngsters could do the same, if given the minutes.
The answer isn’t exactly clear-cut, so let’s put it up for discussion. Is Bayern’s choice to rely on veteran players damaging the club’s prospects in the long run? Or is it the only sane choice for a team that’s competing for the Champions League title every season? Comment your answer below.