Benjamin Pavard is not a popular player at the moment. The Bayern Munich defender has been putting in subpar performances for both club and country as of late, earning him the ire of two vocal fanbases. To set the record straight, the Frenchman spoke about his playstyle in an interview with Canal Football Club. Unfortunately, his words will be unlikely to reassure his fans.
“My position is central defender,” said Pavard (via Goal). “It has always been, it’s where I feel most comfortable, where I take the most pleasure. It’s where I feel the best. I think people see my qualities more in that position.”
Pavard hasn’t played center-back since he transferred from Stuttgart to Bayern back in 2019. We should remember that Stuttgart got relegated that season. Yeah.
Anyway, Pavard feels that he deserves to start in his position because he has the trust of his coaches. “If the great coaches put me at right-back it is because they have confidence in my abilities,” he said. “With Deschamps I was always a starter. If he trusts me it is not because of my beautiful eyes or my hair. He is aware of my qualities.”
The defender’s esteem in the eyes of his coaches might be on the wane, though. While Deschamps may still trust the Frenchman, Julian Nagelsmann has been using Niklas Sule at right-back to great success this season. Pavard’s red card against Greuther Furth gave Sule a chance to prove himself at the position, and the big defender has acquitted himself wonderfully in recent games. With the up-and-coming Josip Stanisic also on the prowl, Pavard’s place at Bayern doesn’t seem so secure.
Of course, Benji knows exactly why he gets criticized. “I have to improve in certain areas,” admitted the Frenchman. “I have to take more risks, more initiatives, I am aware of that and I work on that every day.”
That’s what we want to hear! But this next bit was perhaps a tad unnecessary:
“A defender must first of all defend well. On paper, Pavard may not be as sexy as Hakimi or Arnold, but I think that defensively I am more complete.”
Given that Bayern defend by being proactive and aggressive, it seems strange that Pavard would say that he’s defensively complete. If you compare him to Alphonso Davies on the other flank, the difference is stark. Phonzie drives the opponents back — Pavard invites pressure.
The comparison to Achraf Hakimi or Trent Alexander-Arnold doesn’t favor the Frenchman, since they’d probably suit Bayern’s playstyle than Pavard does currently. Until he fixes that part of his game, he’s going to find it tough to win back support from the fans. Let’s hope he can figure it out.