Is trouble brewing in the Bayern Munich locker room? New manager Thomas Tuchel hasn’t shied away from making bold lineup decisions, including benching stars Thomas Müller and Alphonso Davies in a crucial Champions League second leg against Manchester City. But under the radar is the case of fullback Noussair Mazraoui, who has scarcely had game time since the Rückrunde began — and he’s not happy about it.
“Of course [I’m disappointed]. Before the World Cup I was in the starting XI, now I’m fit and don’t get any playing time,” Mazraoui was quoted as saying after the City game, via Az’s Maximilian Koch. “I’m not even second or third choice. It’s too early to talk about my perspective here. But it’s not good.”
Sky Sport’s Florian Plettenberg is reporting that Mazraoui is “open to leaving” Bayern Munich this summer:
News #Mazraoui: In the Mixed Zone last night he made clear that he is very unhappy with his situation at Bayern. If he won’t get more time on the pitch he is very open to leave Bayern in summer.— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) April 20, 2023
➡️ Under Tuchel he has played 1 (!) minute. Contract until 2026!@SkySportDE pic.twitter.com/lDtYIC77UJ
Bild also spoke with Mazraoui, who unloaded just about everything he is feeling (as captured by @iMiaSanMia).
“I fought my way into the starting XI in the first half of the season and showed what I can do and came back after my pericarditis. Now it feels like I’ve been forgotten, even though that’s a big word. Football is football, you are only as good as your last game. But that was a long time ago for me. That’s hard,” said Mazraoui. “I haven’t known Thomas Tuchel for long, he’s only been here for three weeks. Our relationship is good, it was also good with Julian Nagelsmann. But I might have gotten more chances with Julian, he knows me better. It’s more difficult for me under Tuchel.
“I’ve been completely fit for almost two months. But I haven’t gotten almost any minutes since then. I’m disappointed, the situation is disappointing. I did a very good job in the first half of the season, and the World Cup went great too. After that I had bad luck, a pericarditis. Since my return, I’m no longer 2nd or 3rd option in my position - but 3rd or 4th. I don’t know why that happened. You have to ask the people in the club who have a higher position. He (Tuchel) has only been here for a short time. I think he’s a good coach. He talks a lot with the players. That’s okay. The coach and I talked about my perspective. But that’s something between us.
“I’m a fighter. But if the situation stays like this, that’s not what I want. And not what I deserve. But it’s still too early to talk about what’s happening in the summer. Sometimes football can go fast...”
Mazraoui’s absence initially stemmed from complications after his COVID-19 infection at the FIFA 2022 Men’s World Cup. But even after his clearance to return, the Moroccan star has struggled to get into the lineup.
In his absence, Bayern added Manchester City’s João Cancelo on loan at the end of the winter transfer window. The Portuguese is a world superstar in his own right, and has put the squeeze on Mazraoui’s prospects at both left-back, where he plays for country, and right-back, where he had found his Bayern home.
The second part of Mazraoui’s comments are the most concerning. While it’s good that Bayern are finding time for Josip Stanišić — a late sub in the second leg against City — it’s clear that Maz feels totally left out in the cold.
With his technical ability and dynamism, Mazraoui should slot well into Tuchel’s 2-3-5 in possession structure on either side of the pitch. Yet his only appearance under Thomas Tuchel came as an 89th minute Bundesliga cameo against Freiburg.
Complicating matters further, neither Cancelo nor Benjamin Pavard is a lock to stay in Bavaria. Skilled full-backs don’t grow on trees, and they have only just finally secured one in Mazraoui — on a free transfer, no less! Bayern would do well not to squander that.
Can’t get enough analysis of the game? Then why not check out our postgame podcast? We break down what worked and what didn’t as Bayern Munich succumbed to another Champions League elimination to Manchester City. Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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