German striker Kevin Volland, formerly of Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, spoke in a recent interview about keeper Alexander Nübel and how lucky he is to have him as a teammate at Monaco. The Ligue 1 campaign resumes this coming weekend and the timing of his interview, along with AS Monaco manager Philippe Clement’s comments saying that the keeper is fully focused on Monaco, reinforce the suggestion that Nübel seems less interested in being recalled to Bayern Munich to serve as Manuel Neuer’s long-term replacement.
“Alex is a great goalkeeper and an excellent guy. We do a lot together outside of football and get along well – maybe because he always brings my children ice cream when he comes. We are very happy that we have him,” Volland recently told Abendzeitung in an interview. The former Leverkusen striker is quite familiar with his keeper from his time in the Bundesliga, when Nübel played for Schalke 04. It also helps strengthen their bond that they’re the only two German players on Monaco’s squad, and no longer have Niko Kovac at the helm. The ex-Bayern manager is now managing VfL Wolfsburg, but is a fluent German speaker despite being Croatian.
The timing of Volland’s interview may be significant as Nübel is set to be the subject of a winter transfer window tug-of-war between Monaco and his parent club in Bavaria. It’s almost as if it’s a deliberate attempt from clubs to take attention way from the rumors of the player potentially leaving, almost offering a layer of reassurance that the player will stay, but we know that doesn’t really have any real pulling power.
Still, at this juncture, it doesn’t seem likely that Nübel would start up the season again with Monaco and then all of the sudden decide to come to Bayern, especially knowing that his place might be his own to lose next season when Neuer is fully fit again. It’s a conundrum: Bayern wants the Neuer replacement to be long-term, but CEO Oliver Kahn has made comments insisting that their long-time keeper can, and will, play at the top level until he’s 40 years old, making it hard for whoever his replacement is to subscribe to the idea that their status as a starter wouldn’t be revoked once Neuer is back.