Now that the center-backs are out of the way, the next position on our agenda for Mannschaft Planen is the right back position. Benjamin Pavard has had his ups and downs but this season has cemented the fact that his preferred position of center-back is also his best position, and by some distance. With that in mind, Bayern Munich are now on the search for a right back who can offer something going forward. This is not something that is in line with Julian Nagelsmann’s current 3-4-2-1/4-2-3-1 hybrid, but it will be a position Bayern look to strengthen in anyway as they may want to play a mirrored version of the system when Alphonso Davies is unfit and the team needs a fourth defender. These qualities in mind, let’s look at our options.
This article’s players will not be as high profile as the previous article, so I will be using statistics to make my point a lot. All statistics used have been pulled from WhoScored.com.
First up, we have RC Strasbourg’s Frédéric Guilbert. At 27 years of age, he is the oldest player in this set, but I think he’s good enough to warrant not being the youngest. A natural right sided wing back, Guilbert has repeatedly shown his class for Strasbourg the last 2 seasons in Ligue 1. He was an Aston Villa “flop” — meaning he wasn’t bad but the world was expected of him — so his reputation amongst the Premier League fanbase isn’t great, but neither was the reputation of a certain Serge Gnabry. In 30 starts since 2020 in the Ligue 1, Guilbert has produced a goal and 7 assists. These may not be fantastic numbers for a player that I have just hyped up so much, but trust me when I say he is the real deal. He has been employed mostly as the right back in a back four, but also as the right wing back in a back three, meaning he will not feel lost when Nagelsmann switches formations. He has the stamina to go back and forth and maraud down his flank for a full 90, allowing Nagelsmann more flexibility in playing the back three even without Davies, but note that Guilbert does not have the same lightning pace (who does, even?) of Davies. He may be available for under €20m considering the financial situation of French Football is not close to improving, and I think Guilbert would be the perfect poach from this situation.
Player Quality: 8/10
Potential Price: 9/10
TOTAL: 20/30 (66.67%)
Staying in France, we have the highest profile player of the lot: OGC Nice’s Youcef Atal. Atal has been a steady presence at the back for Nice, but more than that he has been very reliable going forward. 1.6 times fouled and 1.3 dribbles completed per game show his reliability as a wide option — meaning he could be moulded into the right-sided marauder in the system once again — but a doubt will be his ability to put it back into the box. He averages 0.5 crosses per game and 0.7 key passes per game, which is not something that is ideal. His progressive play could be very much improved, but his skill on the ball is undeniable. However, I think Bayern would prefer an option that is more educated in his passing decisions, as Atal’s passing definitely is not poor but he does not attempt final balls. At 25 years of age, Atal is definitely not in his prime and could work on this facet of his game, and I do think he has the potential to be a quality right back in seasons to come.
Another thing to mention about Atal is his defensive work-rate. He does not let up throughout the 90, always tracking back. He is tireless, and this has shown as Nice are currently the best defense in the league (21 goals against in 24 games, tied for first with Marseille). This is a very important quality for the system we are employing, and it is the exact quality Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry lack, having cost us games as of late (not to blame Coman and Gnabry, they are wingers, not wing backs). Atal could cost us south of €20m as well, and even lower than that considering his contract expires in 2023. Overall I think he could be just the perfect fit for Bayern, a right back who is tireless defensively but also has a penchant for pushing forward. I honestly thought Atal was worth over €30m on Transfermarkt before I went and checked (his value is €15m).
Player Quality: 9/10
Potential Price: 10/10
TOTAL: 23/30 (76.67%)
I know what you’re thinking.
As will become tradition, I will be including one of my personal darlings for each position. We covered Nico Schlotterbeck in the previous article, and now it’s time for Fabien Centonze.
Fabien Centonze is a 26 year old French FC Metz player. He can play as a right back, right wing back, right midfielder, and even has the qualities to make a more than competent defensive midfielder. Sound familiar? It should. I am comparing him to one Joshua Kimmich. Now don’t get me wrong, they are not the same player. Kimmich is much more well rounded, while Centonze does not have the same finishing instinct and also lacks a certain sharpness to his passing. His passing is rough, not glossy and refined like Kimmich’s, but it is certainly something to work with. He is another tireless player, always marauding up and down his right flank for the full 90. He is defensively solid, possibly more solid than Atal, although some of his tackling and interception statistics are bumped up by his position as a wide player in a midfield five where he breaks shape often to press hard (another quality that Nagelsmann looks for, the pressing part, not the breaking shape). However, it is his offensive qualities that truly stand out. He has managed 4 goals and an assist in 17 appearances in Ligue 1. Not a fantastic return, but this is only due to a lack of end product, a quality that can very much be worked on and improved. He averages 1.6 dribbles completed and 1.6 times fouled per game. His crossing is not the best at 0.3 per game, but his passing in the opposition half is certainly a foot better than Atal’s. More than anything though, I find his goal threat to be the real key aspect of his play. As a right back or a right wing back, it is very difficult to become a goal threat, but Centonze’s positional awareness is head and shoulders above his teammates and opponents — in most cases — and this allows him to invert and drift into pockets behind defenders’ backs and insert daggers into the hearts of the opposition fans. This could be a very interesting tactical evolution for Nagelsmann to try, in fact it is one that has already been employed with Gnabry, drifting on the right when Davies was fit on the left. As Sabitzer often drifts wide in possession, he could provide cover while Centonze inverts and becomes a fourth attacker. Transfermarkt values Centonze at 8m, and I feel we could get him for around that price point, which would be a bargain for the amount of potential he has.
Player Quality: 8/10
Potential Price: 9/10
TOTAL: 19/30 (63.33%)
In my opinion, Youcef Atal is the best option of these three, but all of them provide a unique role and skillset to the squad. What do you think? Who is your preferred option at right back for Bayern Munich? Let us know, we are always open to discussion.