Thomas Muller’s perfect replacement may be playing right now just a short four hour drive down the A1 in Vienna. Bayern Munich has been linked to acquiring the young Austrian superstar, Yosef Demir but landing him will not be simple.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and Ajax have all also been reported as suitors, and it appears that the young man will have his choice of top tier clubs for the next step of his career. With his contract ending in the summer of 2022 his move away from Vienna seems imminent. With his rumoured transfer fee being around fifteen to twenty million euros, Demir would not be a budget-busting addition. Let’s take a moment to understand why Bayern are interested in acquiring this young Austrian.
He has all the necessary skills and physical attributes
While young Yusuf has plenty of scoring chops (more on that later) it is his passing and ball distribution skills that really have scouts across Europe drooling. His short- and long-range passing accuracy is top notch, and he has a natural ability to read the developing play and put the ball exactly where his team-mate needs it, or to work a give-and-go or interchange with one or more of his squad to rip open even the most packed defence.
At just seventeen he plays like a seasoned pro. One analyst describes his skill set as follows:
His deft touch and ability to manipulate the ball allows Demir to drift away from his markers using subtle faints and drops of the shoulder. Such technicality and nimbleness have drawn comparisons to Lionel Messi. And whilst these claims are hyperbolic, to say the least, the one key difference between the pair is Demir’s size. At 5’10 and weighing 65kg Demir can rely not only on his technical but physical assets to progress the ball. There’s an effortlessness to his movement that makes him so difficult to dispossess. Demir’s mind moves just as quickly as his feet.
Despite operating behind the striker, Demir tends to come in off the right-hand touchline to maneuver the ball on to his stronger left foot; this opens up opportunities to shoot or switch the play. The majority of his creative influence comes from the left-hand side, where he is more naturally able to pick out teammates in the area.
Demir has the presence of mind to pick up spaces between the lines; this allows Rapid to vertically stretch the play. Whilst Demir is also comfortable receiving on the half turn. It means the midfielder rarely gives up possession, allowing Rapid to take more risks on the ball.
The one attribute that I see in Demir that makes him a perfect understudy and eventually successor for Muller is that he always seems to know what he wants to do with the ball before he receives it. No pause, no looking around, no hesitation, the ball is on his foot and he is either on the move advancing it via an aggressive run or dribble, or it is off his foot and sprayed out to a teammate. That kind of game understanding and instant decision making is crucial as Bayern often have to unlock stacked defences.
He has a long record of achievement despite his young age
Demir started at the Rapid Academy at age 10, has been in their system since and became the youngest ever player to appear for Rapid’s first team at just age sixteen. He has made a mark on the junior circuit. He has appeared for Rapid Vienna’s younger side twice at the prestigious Mercedes Benz Junior Cup and was the youngest player in the tournament on both occasions!
Despite that he was also voted the best player in the tournament both times he appeared, leading Rapid to second place in 2019 and a triumphant 4-0 smashing of RB Leipzig in the tournament final in 2020.
Of course, he has also featured for the Austrian U-15 and U-17 sides, scoring a remarkable (and consistent) 19 goals in 22 games.
Due to the fact his lineage allows him to play for Turkey or Austria, his first call up to the men’s squad is expected imminently to commit him to the national team.
The transition to Bayern should be easy
There would obviously be no difficulties for a young Austrian man to move to Bayern. He would be literally close to home, there would be no problem with food or other cultural issues, and his first language is German (although I agree with Jupp Heynckes that the “Vienners” can be difficult to understand at times). He plays for a fan-owned club in a massive city that just happens to be sponsored by Adidas. He wouldn’t even have to learn a new stadium name!
In footballing terms, Rapid plays a 4-2-3-1 very similar to Bayern’s, and Demir’s fitness and physicality should allow his to adopt to our aggressive pressing style without too much difficulty. He can play across the midfield, on either wing, but is most at home behind the striker, playing the position in a very similar way to our beloved Thomas Muller.
His development has been well handled by Rapid
Despite his obvious abilities and superstar potential Rapid has been conservative in their development of the young man. Some lower league teams harm younger player by throwing them into the fray and running them into the ground, hoping to maximize the value they get out of the young men while they still have them. Demir’s minutes have been intentionally limited at Rapid, in the same way that Flick has been cautious with Jamal Musiala and Alphonso Davies.
Rapid coach Dietmar (“Didi”) Kühbauer has said his priority with Demir is developing the young player rather than throwing him into the deep end. Didi’s actions, using Demir in a mix of starting and substituting roles, while still allowing him to compete in junior tournaments instead of fulling committing him to the first squad has proved his promise true and contributed to Demir’s lightning quick development.
He can hit a Bayern-style cracker to break an opponent’s heart at the death
Just last week with a hard game knotted at 0-0, Kühbauer brought on Demir to try and crack SV Ried’s packed defence. And with the clock just seconds from ninety Demir made magic happen:
There are four elements that make that goal happen that help us understand the young man’s potential. First, he has to find the space to make the shot against a desperate defence. Secondly, he has to see the opportunity. Thirdly, he has to have the courage to take the shot, rather than pass the ball to a more experienced teammate. And finally he has to have the technique to make it happen.
To my eye, Yusuf Demir would look mighty fine in Bayern red. Let’s hope Brazzo and the team can make it happen.