Not many players patrolled the midfield as well as Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. If you had to pick one, though, who would you say was better this season?
People have given Kimmich god-like status in these parts, while Goretzka has pushed his way into the same realm. Of course, you might actually favor the slick ball skills of Jamal Musiala or the defensive presence of Marc Roca...Okay, I kid, I kid.
For the purposes of this argument, we included Thomas Müller because his role is equal parts second striker and attacking midfielder. Müller’s versatility and the amount of field that he covers in pressing and tracking back definitely makes him the rare player who walks that tightrope between being a midfielder and being a forward.
Let’s see who our staff picked:
- Joshua Kimmich: I am a huge Leon Goretzka fan, but I think Kimmich was better this season — even if he wasn’t always at his best. It was an odd year and a season where players like Kimmich and Goretzka were often asked to change their roles from half-to-half at times. Both players are extremely flexible and were able to impact the game on offense and defense. For my money, Kimmich was slightly better.
- Joshua Kimmich: I’m not even sure why this was chosen as a category, unless someone wants to ironically vote for Tiago Dantas or something. In any other squad, Leon Goretzka would be head-and-shoulders above every other player (and not just because he’s Hulk-sized). Unfortunately for him, Joshua Kimmich is the best midfielder in the world.
- Thomas Müller: With a league high 18 assists, Müller remained almost as consistent as last season. He orchestrated Bayern on the pitch on the worst of days and was vital offensively in a first leg defeat against PSG in the Champions League. He played deeper when needed to, almost in a “6” role and really functioned as a playmaker, a second striker and a winger at various times in the season. Given the freedom to roam, he did exactly that but did not forget his defensive duties either. His heading ability proved a valuable asset as did his partnership with Robert Lewandowski. In fact, my memory is making me question now whether the best Raumdeuter I saw was from 2009/2010, from 2012/2013 or the current one, aging like fine wine.
- Joshua Kimmich: Yes, I know that there is also a good argument for Leon Goretzka taking the same spot, but due to missing out quite a few games in the second half of the season due to injury, Kimmich just nicks it. Few Bayern players are more consistent, and Kimmich gave his all every time he was on the pitch. His passing was better than ever before, he was great at playmaking (third highest assist provider in the team) and controlled every game skillfully. This man’s the best deep lying playmaker/central midfielder in the world right now (yes, he’s the best at both jobs, fight me) so it is kind of a no-brainer at the moment.
- Leon Goretzka: While Kimmich and Müller are the top contenders for this award for their performances, Goretzka has been the backbone of Bayern and Germany. Leon bore the brunt of the congested schedules, sometimes playing as many as 3-4 full games in a span of 10 days. Add in Kimmich’s injury towards the end of last year and Jogi Löw’s stubbornness not to rest Leon, it is truly surprising how the amount of load borne by Bayern’s Adonis hasn’t burnt him out. Leon not only improved on his performances from last season but was also exceptionally all rounded on the pitch. His passing and man marking were crucial during periods when Kimmich was either injured or unavailable to play the ball. Add to this his 10 goal involvements and Leon was simply irreplaceable in the 2020/2021 season.
- Thomas Müller: The evolution of Thomas Müller from a shadow-striker to a well-rounded attacking-midfielder (while retaining all of his Raumdeuter-ing qualities) over the years has been nothing short of magnificent. After collecting 21 assists in 2019/20, Müller took his game to the next level, scoring 11 goals and serving up 18 more, this season. Whether it was taking part in the team’s general buildup, acting as a bridge between defense and offense, delivering incisive final passes or using his customary spatial awareness to free up Robert Lewandowski and co. in the penalty area, Müller once again proved to be the heartbeat of this Die Roten side. The German led his team from the front and his understanding of gegenpress-ing was central to coach Hansi Flick’s plans. The club’s off-field antics have unfortunately cost Müller the perfect coach he could ask for at this stage of his career. Nonetheless, the Bavarian-born was phenomenal for Bayern Munich in 2020/2021.
- Thomas Müller: Der Raumdeuter picked up from where he left off last season by becoming the top assister in the Bundesliga two seasons in a row. Although he was three assists short of his record tally of 21 in 2019/20, he was still a vital cog in Bayern’s attack. Not only that, but he also ventured into some other roles in midfield, sometimes playing as an 8 or even a 6, depending on how crazy Hansi Flick was on his day. The scary part is, he did a pretty good job in all of those roles. I knew Müller was versatile, but I didn’t know he was that good. Kimmich was excellent, and Goretzka was great, but for me, Müller was Bayern’s best midfielder of the season.
- Thomas Müller: An easy choice and the only choice, given how spectacular Müller was this past season. The German had his best ever campaign and led Bayern’s team both offensively and defensively. Müller’s impact on Bayern’s play was apparent in most offensive movements and patterns and he really acted like the interlinking glue of the whole team. As Hansi Flick’s right hand, Müller has never had such an astounding impact on Bayern’s play than in 2020/2021. In addition, Unlike Joshua Kimmich who dropped off massively after his injury, Müller was completely consistent throughout the season.
BFW Postseason Breakdown: Bayern Munich’s Most Outstanding Midfielder
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