Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer is the greatest goalkeeper of all time. That is an opinion that I can throw out there with no argument beyond personal preference from anybody who has competent football knowledge. However, at 35 years of age, there really is no guarantee as to how much longer he could stay at the club.
Estimates range from anywhere between just a couple more seasons all the way to another decade. We thought back in 2018 that we had begun to see Neuer inching into the twilight years of his career as he spent a season injured and came back not in the best of form, but he has since come back to his very best. However, he is not invulnerable to injury, and if the last couple of months have proven anything, it is that a replacement is needed for when he is unavailable, or after he hangs up the gloves (which we still do not have a definitive date for, and so be it. I prefer it that way). But who realistically could Bayern even attempt to bring in to replace Manuel Neuer?
While I do think there will be no true ‘replacement’ as such since not every generation of football has a Manuel Neuer, let alone an affordable one, Bayern Munich should still look for a high calibre shot-stopper. Before continuing, let’s address the fact that Alexander Nübel is currently out on loan at AS Monaco and is doing a more than great job, but it seems he does not want to return to being a back-up in Munich.
First up, Chelsea FC’s second-choice goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.
For all the memes, in the last season or so Kepa has proven himself to still be a world class shot stopper. While his ability to build up play leaves a bit to be desired, I do think under Manuel Neuer he could be tutored to be more comfortable on the ball. Lack of game time certainly won’t be too much of a problem as he is already second choice at Chelsea and the prospect of being mentored by Neuer is one I don’t think any keeper could possibly turn down. At 27, he is eight years younger than our current number one, and will still likely be under 32 when Neuer begins to slip out of the starting XI.
However, this definitely has caveats. The biggest is of course, price tag. Chelsea definitely won’t let him go for less than €20 million with three years left on his contract, and he is already on a premium wage-wise at €8m per year, and the board definitely wouldn’t want to put up €10m for a player who will play less than 10 games a season for the foreseeable future.
Player Quality: 8/10
Potential Price: 2/10
TOTAL: 11/30 (36.67%)
Staying in London, Kepa’s fellow countryman David Raya from Brentford. Currently 26, he is ever so slightly younger than Kepa, but I think he suits Bayern more. Much more comfortable on the ball, Raya has been crucial to Brentford’s bid for survival, and has now cemented himself as more than just a prospect with his first ever call-up to the national team. Along with being very important to building out from the back, Raya also has an occasional sweep from him, which is definitely now embedded into Bayern’s style of play with the very exposable high line.
That being said, €16-€18 million would be the minimum fee to sign him as he will have two years left on his contract this summer, but his wage would not be burdening in any manner. However, the same problem as Kepa persists in that he may end up sitting out some of his prime if Neuer’s longevity as one of the world’s finest keepers extends beyond the next couple of seasons.
Player Quality: 8/10
Potential Price: 7/10
TOTAL: 17/30 (56.67%)
Finally, we have the customary ‘Cyler’s darling’ pick, and I do think this is the pick of the bunch even outside of my personal bias.
Robert Sánchez — another Spaniard in the Premier League by the way — has been nothing short of sensational for Brighton & Hove Albion. Brighton are a team that does not look to keep too much of the ball much like Brentford, but whenever they have the ball in their own half you can bet Robert Sánchez is involved. He has been the lynchpin of Brighton’s build up from the back, often rallying the back three both with his passes into small spaces and with his vocal directions. His long ball game is not the best by any means, but Bayern’s style of play does not actively look to go route one so this is not a significant issue. He looks to carry the ball that extra inch further himself before passing it, which is fine in the high line Bayern employ. In fact that extra half-second can open up space where it may not have been open earlier. Sánchez has often bailed out the Brighton back three with some incredible saves over the course of the season, and this is not new as he has done just this in past seasons as well. Turning 25 this year, he would be the perfect age to take over from Neuer even if Neuer does remain elite for longer than expected.
Brighton would not let him go for anything less than €18 million with three seasons left on his contract in the summer, but this is more than fair for the quality of player and future assurance. His wage package would not be anything extravagant either. This along with his comfortability on the ball and ideal age makes him the perfect candidate in my opinion.
Player Quality: 9/10
Potential Price: 8/10
TOTAL: 19/30 (63.33%)
Replacing Manuel Neuer is a nigh impossible task, but if anyone, one of these three could be the player we are looking for. What do you think? Is there a goalkeeper we missed? The discussion forum is open as always, have at it.