The buzz around 19-year-old Julian Green has sprouted at a pubescent rate. He has grown from among a heard of fouls to riding with stallions, emerging expeditiously in the prospective plans for both Bayern Munich and the United States.
After a World Cup in which he scored a prompt and impactful goal in the 15 minutes he played, the worry became that he would not be able to bloom with the towering flowers in Bayern's squad in front of him. Manager Pep Guardiola might think that his budding star will have plenty of time in the sunlight, for it seems he wants to keep his young sprout around for the season.
Bayern's plan right now is to keep Julian Green at the club, manager Guardiola told reporters over a conference call, not to send the player out on loan for the 2014/15 European season.
"It's never easy to be with a big club in the first [team] squad, but he deserves to try to keep going here and play with us.
"I think today he's going to stay -- we're going see in the preseason -- but I know him. He's always training well, he's a good guy and my first idea is that he's going to stay for the rest of the season."
Guardiola's words are a Claude Debussy prelude to Green's growing global fan base, but the endorsement of his talent and his work-rate ring hollow if the prodigy is buried deep in the gaffer's orchestra.
Bayern's retaining of Green would not come as a surprise despite the recent departures of some of their homegrown players. Departures Emre Can, Alessandro Schöpf both left after playing at least a season and a half above the U19 level, as did recent academy loanees David Alaba, Mehmet Ekici, Andreas Ottl, Toni Kroos, Andreas Görlitz and Mats Hummels. Green, while stellar with the Bayern reserves a season ago, has yet to eclipse that mark of tenure.
Of his youthful comrades currently in the squad, Green arguably has the most competition for minutes, but his path to playing time might not have as many obstacles as one would think. If some of these obstacles were to be removed or wither away, the road ahead is pretty clear for Green to break into the starting XI:
- Obstacle One: Xherdan Shaqiri – although Matthias Sammer is convinced that the Swiss winger is part of Bayern's "future" plans, Shaqiri's sentiment is a bit different. Should Shaqiri go to Liverpool, Roma, or any other of the rumored landing places, one of the wingers that is in Green's way would be uprooted from his path.
- Obstacle Two: Franck Ribéry's Health – he has finally returned to training after chronic back problems eliminated him from Les Bleu's World Cup squad. He mentioned his ever-improving condition, but the fact remains that he is a) on the wrong side of 30, and b) has a lot of mileage on his legs (34,748 career minutes to be exact). Green is not the first option to replace Ribéry at the moment, he will inch closer to the surface of the pitch.
- Obstacle Three: Player Positioning – Mario Götze and Thomas Müller are the incumbent insurance policies for Ribéry and Arjen Robben, but just because they can play on the flanks does not mean he will. Since his appointment, Guardiola has tinkered with many players positions – Philipp Lahm in midfield, Mario Götze as a striker, Diego Contento and Javi Martínez as center backs, and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Sebastian Rode as fullbacks. Also, Green's position is not set in stone, and with Bayern carrying only Claudio Pizarro and Robert Lewandowski as strikers, his flexibility might allow him to find a position of his own. The movement of chess pieces could allow the pawn of Green to be a game-changer.
Even with variables removed from the equation, one constant factor remains; Guardiola most commit to playing him, much like Louis van Gaal did with Müller five years ago. Judging by the Spaniard's continuous mixing and matching a season ago, Green might find himself in his senior kit more often than he thinks. He could easily become what Højbjerg was a year ago: a young piece with loads of potential that awaits his opportunity on the bench in the senior side.
Green will be one of the Bayern players blessing America's shores for the German champions' two-game United States tour, according to mlssoccer.com. That already puts him on a shortlist of homegrown players due to get a minutes boost with the first team.