Bayern Munich have an interesting plan developing at left-back this season. Per Sport1’s Kerry Hau, there will be no direct backup for Alphonso Davies after Omar Richard’s transfer to English Premier League club Nottingham Forest, and 16-year-old Paul Wanner will get some work there as part of an effort to diversify the youngster’s skillset.
Instead, Lucas Hernández will be the first option to shift wide, as he has done in the past.
As Sport1 noted, Hernández played left-back under Hansi Flick and also still does for the French national team. He had a memorable battle with Joshua Kimmich in last summer’s EURO matchup between Germany and France. And he’s also played the position for Nagelsmann at times in Davies’ absence, in games where Bayern utilized four at the back.
Nagelsmann does have another card up his sleeve, however, and it’s youngster Paul Wanner:
Top talent Paul Wanner, actually based in attacking midfield, is repeatedly used on the left defensive side (sometimes in 4-2-2, sometimes in 3-5-2) in 11-on-11.
Primarily for personnel reasons. As one of only four “true” left-footers in the squad, Wanner is the most likely candidate for the Richards role, especially since his crosses are very precise and well-timed, as was evident during the training camp in the USA.
The other left-footed players at Bayern, by the way: Davies, Leroy Sané, and Lucas Hernández.
Wanner is reportedly still expected to play more for the U19 side and FC Bayern II this year than for the senior team. The training at left-back is therefore seen as also a developmental one — to improve both his fitness levels and his general understanding of the game.
Josip Stanišić is the other alternative at the spot, with Noussair Mazraoui’s arrival crowding him out at right-back.
Stanišić is a promising player who needs playing time, but presents a very different look to Davies at left-back. Wanner would be the player to duplicate both Davies’ attacking initiative and ability to provide width from the left. Is he far enough along to make matchday squads regularly, though, and would that eat into his youth development if he doesn’t get game time?
For regular rotation, there’s certainly a glut of center-backs if Hernández shifts wide. Hernández is a regular choice top XI — but perhaps he’ll rotate ordinarily with Dayot Upamecano to allow him spells on the left. Maybe that’s the way to give Tanguy Nianzou another step up in playing time.
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine Wanner earning the occasional start in the Davies role — perhaps in a DFB-Pokal game, for example. However, when it’s Stanišić getting the nod, tactics will need shuffling and someone else will have to provide width on the left.
Bayern leapt at the chance to earn decent return for a well-liked squad backup in Omar Richards this transfer window, but it’s curious they did so without a direct replacement. Time will tell if the Wanner alternative will prove fruitful — for either the player’s development or the team’s.