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Joshua Kimmich on not being considered a six, Bayern Munich midfield partnerships, and his involvement in Serge Gnabry’s extension

“Listen, Brazzo, don’t you dare think of going to get Dembélé!”

Serge Gnabry and Thomas Müller wrap their arms around Kimmich as the trio walk off the field after the opening-day win against Frankfurt.
Los tres caballeros.
Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

More picked-up pieces from Joshua Kimmich’s recent interview with Tz, in which the beating heart of Bayern Munich’s midfield talks about criticisms over the defensive side of his game, how he adapts to different partners in central midfield, and his personal involvement in Serge Gnabry’s contract extension.

“Brutal quality” is the word of the day, something Kimmich has felt very apparent on the training grounds with the number and quality of team additions in this summer’s transfer window.

It’s ushered in good feelings and plenty of optimism — but it wasn’t just the additions. Kimmich was keen on seeing the club keep Serge Gnabry. The winger is one of his best mates on the team, and for much of the summer had an uncertain future with the club — a contract extension on the table, but a disquieting quiet on the news front.

“I did ask [Bayern brass] about it,” Kimmich said, laughing. “But more on the club side. I didn’t want to influence Serge that much. Well, actually I did. But not him directly.”

Bayern fans will be just as happy that Gnabry is back and scoring goals for the club. The winger-forward looks to be one of the key components of replacing Robert Lewandowski’s production — “we [have to] absorb that collectively,” Kimmich added of the loss. “And I’m convinced we will!”

A settled situation up front will also help Kimmich concentrate on his enormous duties in the center of the park. His long-time partner in the double pivot, Leon Goretzka, is out injured for a spell and the first-choice backup from last season, Corentin Tolisso, is now at Olympique Lyon. Marcel Sabitzer has stepped up to the plate for Bayern’s first two competitive matches, but won’t be the only option going forward.

For Kimmich, it means learning to adapt to different styles as he orchestrates head coach Julian Nagelsmann’s attack.

“With Sabi on the double six, it’s more likely that we’ll be closer together, that we’ll be able to play one-twos”, he said. “With him, it’s more possible for me to move forward myself. I know that he will then hold the position. He’s not someone who goes forward with every attack.

“When I play with Leon, Jamal [Musiala] or Ryan [Gravenberch], I know that they’re more like eights who don’t position themselves as a classic six in build-up, but sometimes go higher up. Then, my game is different. I can’t get involved in the forward play as often. It becomes more my job to take care of the build-up so that others can open up the spaces in between.

“That’s what Jamal did in Leipzig with incredible quality. My game is changing accordingly.”

It’s an especially interesting perspective with respect to Sabitzer, who at least this author has felt looked more comfortable going forward in the past — but this season, is settling in quite well at the base of the midfield and playing a nice role in distribution. Musiala, of course, is sort of playing higher up already — as one of the more advanced attacking midfielders/wingers.

Rumors continue to persist — if only barely, at this point — about Bayern’s interest in Konrad Laimer. Do the Bavarians need reinforcements? Is Kimmich even a proper defensive mid?

“I haven’t really noticed that discussion myself,” Kimmich said regarding various comments from experts who view him less a six than an eight.

“Of course, I know that the requirements and demands on me are huge. On the one hand, I’m expected to plug the holes defensively. On the other hand, I’m expected to have offensive actions up front and create chances. I expect the same things of myself. It’s crucial to find the right balance...but I think we’re well-positioned in defensive midfield.”

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