Over the past few days, the big news has been the constantly evolving story that Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann are closing in on a deal. The big roadblock is the price tag on Nagelsmann and how Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig can work out a fair fee.
Regardless of that though, the key will be how Nagelsmann can work with Bayern’s existing cast of characters. As we have seen in the past, a new manager does not always value the current players on the roster at Bayern Munich.
In this two-part series, we will examine some players who could benefit from the change and others who might want to start to looking for their next stop.
With Nagelsmann typically favoring a 3-4-1-2 formation, it is unclear if the coach will continue with that alignment or adapt to a standard Bayern Munich 4-2-3-1. That decision alone, will play a big role in determining what players will fit in under the new regime.
For the purposes of this exercise, we are going to assume that Nagelsmann — unlike Niko Kovac — will be given free rein to change the formation to his liking.
- Robert Lewandowski: This seems like an easy one, but Nagelsmann’s teams tend to generate a lot of chances and Lewandowski will be the most reliable and talented striker the 33-year-old has ever worked with. Sure, the player is getting older, but he should continue to get great service regardless of the formation. Should Lewandowski have to work within a 3-4-1-2, his strike partner will be extremely important ... but who will that be?
- Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka: This duo would win no matter who the next manager is. If Nagelsmann runs his 3-4-1-2, it can be assumed that Kimmich and Goretzka will be play the role of a double-pivot in front of a back-three. Given their experience and performance, this twosome should be able to adapt just fine.
- Alphonso Davies: Should Nagelsmann use his 3-4-1-2, Davies will likely be used in a role similar to Angelino — only Davies is faster and younger. This would seem to be a perfect set-up for the Canadian, who is really still a winger by trade. A position like this for a player with Davies’ skillset seems almost too perfect.
- Dayot Upamecano: The summer transfer will slide right in under his new coach with the advantage of just having played in the system for a couple of years.
- Niklas Süle: So, hear me out...if (and maybe it is a big “if” at this point) Süle decides to stick around, he will no longer potentially be facing a role on the bench. With a back-three, Sül-inho can fit in any of the three positions seamlessly. In a traditional 4-2-3-1, Süle might have seen a cloudy future with Bayern Munich given the signing of Upamecano and the emergence of Lucas Hernandez. It might also help Süle that the big man once played for Nagelsmann under Hoffenheim. Surely, whatever that relationship was like will play a big role in determining if the big fella will stick around when Chelsea is beckoning. Either way, a formation change would certainly help Süle’s case for a contract extension.
- Benjamin Pavard: Pavard does not seem like a natural right wing-back and it would remain to be seen if Nagelsmann would want him for that role. However, Pavard has a desire to play center-back and a four-man crew of Pavard, Süle, Upamecano, and Pavard would seem like a pretty strong cast — and would allow more rest days to keep that quartet healthy. I would not rule out Pavard as a wing-back either, though; I don’t doubt that he could play the role aptly. Pavard’s play moving forward has been much, much better of late and the Frenchman finally looks like he is operating at full health.
- Tanguy Nianzou: Not only could Nianzou be the squad’s 5th center-back (which would absolutely yield some field time with injuries and rest requirements), but he could get additional minutes in the deep sitting double-pivot. If Bayern Munich learned anything this season, it is that it needed more quality depth overall and Nianzou could help with that problem by being versatile enough to support back-up roles across multiple positions.
Potential Winners — Outside the Box
- Erling Haaland and Timo Werner: Hear me out again...while a pursuit of either player might not happen this summer, both players would stand to be potential acquisitions that would seamlessly fit right in. We have already seen Werner achieve massive success in this system and Haaland is a generational talent who can meld into any system given his exquisite physical tools and skills. In a 4-2-3-1, some people have trouble envisioning how Werner and/or Haaland could co-exist with Lewandowski. A 3-4-1-2 should alleviate those concerns.
- Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic: Brazzo lost a few battles with regard to his public image over the past couple of weeks, but he won the war with Flick (likely) leaving. Now, the sporting director has a 33-year-old coach, who — for at least a few years — will just be happy to have his dream job. There will (likely) not be any challenges to his personnel moves for a while and the tension in the offices and on the bench should go away for a spell.