In an interview with kicker, Holger Seitz, the head coach of Bayern Munich’s reserve team, Bayern II, spoke about numerous topics, including squad planning and a possible promotion to the 3. Liga. And he had some interesting things to say.
But the first thing he said was to be expected. When asked about incomings and outgoings, he was pretty frank. “There will definitely be more departures. We still have players in our squad that want and have to go the extra step. The players that have already been with us for a season have the biggest likelihood of leaving. With Liam Morrison and Justin Janitzek two center backs have left us and Gabriel Marusic is unfortunately injured for a while (ruptured his ACL in April). Therefore it is possible that we sign somebody else in this position. Ideally, the squad will consist of 24 players, three of which are goalkeepers.”
And so Bayern II did sign a new center back, just days after this interview. Steve Breitkreuz, an experienced 31-year-old center back who had spent the past 6 years in the 2. Bundesliga, signed on the dotted line to stay at the club until 2025 and provide much needed experience and quality in the position.
But the most interesting thing Seitz said pertains to the team’s promotion to the 3. Liga from the Regionalliga. When asked about the commonly accepted idea that promotion to the 3. Liga would be best of Bayern II, Seitz disagreed. “[If we were to get promoted] we would have to change our age structure and could not play [18 or 19 year olds] anymore. It could be too much of a challenge in the 3. Liga. And we do not want to play with players that are 21 or 22 year olds in the 3. Liga, because players at that age need to be further along in order to have a chance with the senior team.”
Seitz’s last statement is questionable, to say the least. It is true that Bayern cannot line up with 21 or 22-year-olds in the 3. Liga and expect them to make the first team and it is nice that Bayern II has so many really young players, but simultaneously playing the teenagers in the Regionalliga is not helpful either. The Regionalliga is generally considered to be equal to or worse in quality when compared to the U-19 A-League, which means that Bayern’s U-19 players cannot take a step up that benefits them as players. Combine that with Bayern’s non-existent loan system and it is clear to most Bayern youth players that they need to leave before they reach 20 in order to not stagnate. This is not good for Bayern.
The solution is rather simple. Not only does Bayern need to return to the 3. Liga, Bayern will need to trust their talented youngsters in that league. Bayern II won the 3. Liga in 2020 with some older players but also talented youngsters under 20 such as Malik Tillman, Jamal Musiala, Chris Richards, Larks Lukas Mai and Ron Thorben Hoffmann. These players all thrived in the 3. Liga despite not being that old and prove that Bayern can rely on their talents to perform well in the 3. Liga. They don’t even need to win the title, they just need to not get relegated.