Paul Wanner dreams of being like his favourite Bayern Munich player, Jamal Musiala.
Wanner’s respect and affection for his teammate is so strong that he was worried that “The Moose” would be upset when Wanner stepped onto the pitch to break his record as the youngest debutant at the storied club. Wanner made history despite his misgivings.
The rising star was born to an Austrian mother and a German father who, as a midfielder, helped captain SC Austria Lusteneau to some of their best results ever. Wanner feels a strong connection to his mother’s homeland as he has taken out his Austrian citizenship in addition to his German citizenship by birth. So far he has chosen to compete for Germany making his first appearance for the U-17 side in the summer of 2021.
Bayern’s U17 coach Alexander Moj, has known Wanner since he was nine and coached him for the last three years. He recently made time to share his thoughts on the young man with The Athletic. While he characterizes Wanner as “brutally ambitious”, Moj firmly places the foundation for the player’s success in a balanced family life:
“He has a very calm family who are down to earth and never put pressure on him to be a professional or play at Bayern Munich. It was always Paul’s decision,” Moj said. “He wasn’t always in the academy boarding house, which made it possible for him to connect with family and friends. It wasn’t just football all the time, and I think that helped him hugely.”
More than simply wanting to discuss Wanner’s physical attributes or on field skills, Moj is particularly excited about the young man’s ambition and refusal to rest on his laurels. The coach describes Wanner as someone who is always seeking out new challenges and driving himself to be better saying, “The harder the challenge, the higher his performance — he really is someone who grows through a challenge. He needs it.”
Wanner has also embraced some of the latest sport science to enhance his obvious natural gifts. He works with Malte Hartmann, a coach who helps find ways to stimulate both the brain and nervous system to enhance physical output. It is a widely accepted method of training utilized by many of Germany’s players in Brazil in 2014, adopted by Liverpool and recently implemented as part of the program at the DFB youth academy.
Hartmann praised both the athleticism and maturity of Wanner when he began working with him at age 15. Hartmann suggested that when he first saw the young man at age 13 his motor skills were equivalent to a working pro’s. He also recalled how Wanner contacted him about problems he was having with recovery, something often ignored by young athletes. “This is what sets him apart. I didn’t have to call him to talk about recovery. He called me, knowing it was the right thing to do for him. That is impressive at that age,” he opined.
On the practical side, Wanner’s contract with Bayern ends this summer. He shares the same agent as Musiala, and Bayern are said to be pulling out all the stops to keep him in the family. It is anticipated that if sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic and company can outline a path to the pros for him similar to the one that Jamal Musiala has taken he will sign an extension. His recent call-ups and coach Nagelsmann’s publicly calling him “an incredible talent” can’t hurt either.
Bayern technical director Marco Neppe described his style of play in his first sessions with the pros as “cocky or bold” and said he looked as relaxed as if he was dribbling around the playground. Despite this attitude, he still picked up the pinnies and other equipment at the end of the session.
Most importantly, the young man remains true to his roots. Despite making his first appearances alongside Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and other great players, he still loves his Austrian grandmother’s cooking as The Athletic described.
Schnitzel, spätzle, and sport science. The sky is clearly the limit for this young attacking midfielder.