When Joshua Kimmich shifted from being one of the world’s preeminent right-backs to his new, permanent role as a central midfielder, a hole opened up on the Bayern Munich roster.
Sure, Benjamin Pavard has been a more than adequate replacement for Kimmich, but the long-term plans for the 24-year-old Frenchman appear to be as a center-back. Alvaro Odriozola was brought in on a loan to be a band-aid for the rest of this season, but the 24-year-old Spaniard is expected to promptly return to Real Madrid once his loan assignment expires.
All of that has reportedly led Bayern Munich to hunt for a long-term solution at right-back. On the surface, Pavard’s stellar performance at right-back has far exceeded his uneven performances at center-back, but the club’s management appears to be set on finding a new long-term starter.
Per Sport Bild, Bayern Munich will have a few options. While these names have already been bandied about in the rumor mill, the reality of a move is getting closer to fruition. One of the more popular options appears to be 19-year Dutch-American Sergino Dest:
Bayern Munich has been watching the 19-year-old Sergino Dest from Ajax Amsterdam for a long time. Dutch media reported that Bayern already made an offer last winter. The Dutchman is considered a top talent, fast, strong on the ball, with a lot of drive forward — similar to Bayern’s rising star Alphonso Davies on the left defensive side.
Another player who has reportedly caught Bayern Munich’s eye is FC Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo. Sport Bild cited a report from Radio Cataluyna that stated that Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan were all scoping the 26-year-old.
Absent from the report was Borussia Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi. Hakimi, who is on loan at BVB from Real Madrid until June 30th, was linked to Bayern Munich over the winter, but the there does not appear to be any realistic opportunity for a deal to be brokered — at least as of now.
While other candidates could emerge in the coming weeks, Bayern Munich appears to be weighing a decision between Dest and Semedo.
The age-old debate of how much depth is “too much” could creep back for Bayern Munich. As Niklas Süle comes back from a major knee injury and Lucas Hernandez and David Alaba are now counted primarily as center-backs, it would appear that a permanent move to the central defense might be a little premature for Pavard, even with some of the injuries on the back line.
Still, it seems as if Bayern Munich is set not just on finding a capable depth piece, but an actual starter that would usurp the position from Pavard. The next move will tell us a lot about how the club views players like Pavard and Hernandez. Pavard, while not great in his early appearances as a center-back, has been a very solid right-back, while Hernandez has lived up to his billing as talented, but injury-riddled.
The thinking that a problem of “too much depth” could arise lies in the flexibility of some key players along the back-line. Alphonso Davies appears to be a lock-down starter at left-back moving forward. Süle can operate on the right or left side as a center-back, while Alaba and Hernandez can both slide from center-back to left-back if needed. In addition, Pavard can play as a center-back or right-back, while Kimmich could always drop to right-back if required given the organizational depth Bayern Munich also has in the central midfield.
Aside of Alaba (who is the elder statesmen at just 27), each of these players could certainly be considered as “young.” It just seems like a lot of talent available for four positions (and this does not even include hyped prospects like Chris Richards and Lars Lukas Mai who are both center-backs, with Richards able to slot in as a right-back as well). Even more, this is assuming that Jerome Boateng definitely leaves on a transfer this summer as well, which might not be a sure thing given his steady performances under Hansi Flick.
The trump card in everything is Süle. When healthy, the 24-year-old appears to be an unquestioned starter for both Bayern Munich and Germany at center-back. Should he make a full recovery, it can be assumed he will be entrenched in the starting line-up once again.
If Bayern Munich makes a formal move for a starting-caliber right-back, it could signal a move away from Munich for Hernandez or Pavard for the 2021-2022 season. Alaba’s performance as a center-back has been far superior to anything that Pavard and Hernandez have shown centrally and should make him a shoo-in for a starting role as well. Again, how much depth will be too much if players in the prime of their career like Pavard and Hernandez are forced to the bench?
Bayern Munich will have to deal with that conundrum if it decides to procure a player to slot in as a starter at right-back. It is difficult to think that Bayern Munich could successfully maintain all of that talent.
Given their respective ages, Dest might be the better option over Semedo as the need for him to play right-away might not necessarily be an issue — and would at least buy the Bavarians another year to sort out a formal, strategic vision for its back-line leading up to the 2021/22 season.