It’s hard to deny that Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka are perhaps the most formidable midfield duo that club football has seen in a very long time.
There will be the advocates for Xavi and Andrés Iniesta for FC Barcelona, or even Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos for Real Madrid, but these pairings were more trios with the complement of their defensive midfielders (Sergio Busquets and Casemiro respectively). I think in a 2-vs-2 game no pairing beats these two as they are complete by themselves. Neither of the other pairings mentioned have even close to the defensive prowess or physicality these two players do, but in the attack very little is sacrificed as Kimmich is widely regarded as the best passer in the game and Goretzka has a great striker’s instinct with the movement to boot. They are not as elegant as the other pairings, but in typical German fashion their industriousness and efficiency cannot be downplayed.
It must be said that people tend not to really put a player’s skill and career into perspective until it’s already over. We’ve seen people scoff when Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben are used in the same sentence as Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman, despite the fact that Ribéry and Robben were the age of 24 and 25 respectively when they signed for Bayern, the same age Coman and Gnabry were when they won the 2020 Champions League as key members of the team. I am of course not saying the two sets of players are on equal footing, but I am merely saying that their trajectories are similar.
So, how do Kimmich and Goretzka truly stack up amongst the best midfielders Bayern have ever had?
In terms of longevity, Kimmich is already up there whereas Goretzka has a ways to go. Kimmich has 314 appearances in seven years, whereas Goretzka has 149 in four years. Kimmich ranks eighth all time whereas Goretzka is #33.
What about their production?
Kimmich has 35 goals and 87 assists (second all-time for a Bayern midfielder), whereas Goretzka has 32 goals and 32 assists. The gold standard for production amongst Bayern’s midfielders is inhabited by the likes of Paul Breitner, Lothar Matthaüs and, of course, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Let’s see how Kimmich and Goretzka stack up against them.
- Paul Breitner: 150GA in 347 games, 0.43GA per game
- Lothar Matthaüs: 150GA in 410 games, 0.37GA per game
- Bastian Schweinsteiger: 167GA in 500 games, 0.33GA per game
- Joshua Kimmich: 122GA in 314 games, 0.39GA per game
- Leon Goretzka: 64GA in 149 games, 0.43GA per game
As we can see, Kimmich and Goretzka have a standing that puts them at the very top of the line in terms of Bayern’s all-time greats. Goretzka in particular has a ridiculous contribution per game record. Kimmich has an insane one too, once you realise that he has for the most part played and continues to play as a defensive midfielder.
However, it must be noted that Goretzka has struggled with fitness (hence his 149 games after four years, which is an average of under 38 appearances per year), and to match the longevity of, say, Matthaüs, he will have to play 261 more games and somehow keep up the same level of performance which takes him to the age of 31 at this exact trajectory. Kimmich is on track to match the longevity of the other players mentioned, averaging 45 games per year and already being in the top 30 for all-time appearances at the club ahead of legends such as Willy Sagnol, Rafinha and Arjen Robben. At his current rate Kimmich would enter the top 5 for most appearances within six years ahead of Franz Beckenbauer, at the age of 33.
Kimmich and Goretzka look set to place themselves among the all-timers in Munich, and the prospect has me excited. It gives me goosebumps to think about Kimmich in particular. He is only 27 and is already in the conversation for one of the best defensive midfielders of all time, whereas DMs usually hit their peak around the age of 30, and tend to have a lot more longevity than their more offensive counterparts. Could you imagine what his career could look like at age 33/34?
What do you think of Kimmich and Goretzka’s placement amongst the very best in the history of Bayern? Do they have what it takes to be called the greatest of all time? Let us know in the discussion below.