Now that Bayern Munich have played three full games in preseason, we’re at a point where we can start assessing some of the youngsters who have taken part thus far. With the first teamers all returning one after another, it seems likely that coach Julian Nagelsmann will begin cutting back the kids’ minutes in order to prepare the senior team for the real games.
However, there may be a few standout performers who deserve a shot with the pros. Let’s look at the top three so far:
At 18 years of age and standing only 1.73m tall, the young Torben Rhein is really looking like a player who could make an impact at Bayern Munich this season. While he’s always been highly rated by those who follow the campus, this preseason is the first time he’s gotten to show off his skills surrounded by actual pros.
Rhein is a technical midfielder with excellent mobility and a keen eye for a pass. To be fair, I could be describing almost anyone, but the youngster also has a ton of composure, which is a valuable commodity at his age.
Despite playing with mostly ragtag lineups in every preseason game so far, often against first-teamers in the opposition midfield, Rhein has shown a consistent ability to influence the game with his passing and decision making. His passing, ball progression, and pressing have all been top notch. It might indicate that he’s ready to take the next step in his career.
The teenager already has the exact profile that Bayern need — it wouldn’t be hard for him to slot in for either Joshua Kimmich or Leon Goretzka and start racking up minutes against weaker opposition in the league. Unlike someone like Marc Roca, Rhein won’t have to alter his basic playstyle to adjust to the environment of the first team. At the moment, he lacks experience and will be subjected to a learning curve as he gets used to the speed of first division football, but with proper first team players around him and Nagelsmann’s guidance, the transition could end up being pretty smooth.
With the board reluctant to sign reinforcements in midfield this season, squad dynamics could help Torben Rhein make his breakthrough this season. With Kimmich and Goretzka lacking reliable backups, the youngster may get the chance to prove himself among the best, much like what Alphonso Davies did to earn his starting spot back in 2019.
The 18-year-old Armindo Sieb played against both Koln and Ajax, games which saw their fair share of first team players fielded by the opposition. Despite this, he cut an impressive figure on the wings, earning himself comparisons to Serge Gnabry for his direct style of play.
Nagelsmann is taking care of Sieb, and is trying to to challenge and encourage him. Sieb can play in almost every position in attack, and with the departure of Douglas Costa, the fourth winger spot is currently free. He could appear in the squad several times this season [Bild]— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) July 21, 2021
Nagelsmann has apparently taken an interest in Sieb, giving him special attention in training and challenging him to do more in attack. With Douglas Costa gone and Bayern’s wingers known to be rather fragile, this could be a chance for Sieb to establish himself as a competent fourth winger option for the team.
Depending on how his performances go, he could even usurp some of the wingers ahead of them, given that none of Bayern’s three “starting” wingers had particularly good seasons last year. With Jamal Musiala having already shown that talented youth can upstage the seniors if given the chance, maybe Sieb could become the next teenager to make a breakthrough in the Bayern XI.
Let’s hope that Nagelsmann keeps working on him in the near future, so he can live up to his potential. With Kingsley Coman’s contract talks at an impasse, Bayern may need another young winger talent to come in and take his place.
While he’s technically not a campus talent, Tanguy Nianzou is only 19 so he should qualify for this list. The Frenchman arrived from PSG on a free transfer last summer, but missed practically all of the season with repeated hamstring injuries. Now that he’s finally gotten a spell of games without incident, he’s been showing us why Bayern signed him in the first place.
As a center back, Nianzou has all the qualities to be one of the very best. His physicality is outstanding — even at 1.87m, he has the agility of a player 10cm shorter, while retaining all the power that his frame suggests. On a technical level, all his abilities are exceptional — he can easily play long and short passes with both feet, and he’s also extremely comfortable charging up the pitch with the ball. In many ways, he’s like a younger, more agile Jerome Boateng.
In terms of raw talent, Nianzou could legitimately barge his way into the first XI regardless of what his peers to do stop him. The only concern is injuries — hopefully he’s not as unlucky with injuries as he was last season.
- Omar Richards: The only reason Omar isn’t in the main body of this article is because of his age — at 23, he’s not exactly a youngster anymore. The young Englishman has been excellent in all his preseason games thus far and looks to be a competent backup (and potentially competitor) to Alphonso Davies for the upcoming season.
- Chris Richards: Chris is already Bundesliga proven. The question is, will Bayern keep him, or send him out on loan this season?
- Christopher Scott: Scott already got some first team minutes under Hansi Flick. He’s been injured a lot this preseason, so we’ve not really seen what he can do under Nagelsmann — but his outing against Koln was very promising.
- Taylor Booth: The young American looks like another potential midfield prospect for the XI this year. Only injuries have prevented him from taking on a larger role in preseason alongside Rhein.
- Josip Stanisic: Added via posterity.
What did you think of this list? Who caught your eye in the preseason games so far? Comment below!