Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn — a former goalkeeper for the club himself — delivered a subtle reminder that nothing can be taken for granted with Manuel Neuer's injury return. The German Rekordmeister will certainly sign a keeper in the winter transfer window, and the No. 1 spot won't necessary be polished and waiting for Neuer when he returns. That will be up to him.
“We know Manuel, he will give everything to get back in top form. And a Manuel Neuer in top form is still absolutely world class,” Kahn said (from Bild, via @iMiaSanMia).
Kahn could not have put it more diplomatically or much differently, but there’s no escaping the elephant in the room. And that is that at 37 — Neuer’s age by the start of the next Bundesliga season — “giving everything” may not be enough, especially coming back from a broken leg sustained this past December. Even for one of the greatest to ever do it.
For now then, the club will need a solution...and it’s a “for now” that could easily extend into the start of next season.
“We hope that this rehabilitation period will be without complications. But football is a short-term business, we have to think about the here and now,” Kahn declared.
Neuer’s ever-reliable deputy, Sven Ulreich, will help soften the blow of his absence for the Bavarians. But it is the as-yet undetermined (though likely Gladbach’s Yann Sommer) identity of the new man that may determine the course of Neuer’s future. When the Bayern mainstay does come back, that’s the man whose form he would need to beat.
And given the stature of the club, expect whoever comes in to set a pretty high standard of his own.
“In Sven Ulreich, we have a top-class goalkeeper who is familiar with this situation and reliable. Hasan Salihamidžić, Julian Nagelsmann, Marco Neppe and I are discussing various options without hesitation,” Kahn said.
“But replacing Manuel Neuer during the winter break is of course extremely difficult, especially since not many clubs want to let their number 1 go.”