The drawn-out saga as to whether Manuel Neuer would extend his contract at Bayern Munich has ended with the goalkeeper signing a new deal until 2023. Good news for Neuer, but where does this all leave Alexander Nübel?
“FC Bayern are very happy Manuel has extended his contract until 30 June 2023,” explained CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on Wednesday. “Manuel is the best goalkeeper in the world and our captain.”
These were the words the majority of Bayern fans wanted to hear as their talismanic keeper committed himself to the Bavarian giants for the next few years. The seven-time Bundesliga champions ended months of speculation by putting his name to a three-year deal after a compromise was reached with the club.
“During the weeks of the shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic, I didn’t want to make a decision because nobody knew if, when and how Bundesliga football would continue,” Neuer explained. “It was important for me to continue working with our goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic. Now this has been resolved, I look to the future with great optimism. I feel very comfortable and at home in Bavaria. FC Bayern are one of Europe’s top football clubs.”
The 34-year-old had been negotiating for a five-year deal, whereas the club were only offering a two-year extension. In the end everyone is happy then?
Well not everyone.
The immediate question kicked up by the new deal for Neuer is that of Alexander Nübel’s future. Bayern’s words and actions clearly indicate that they do not see the 23-year-old signing from Schalke as their first-choice next season, which leaves the talented youngster rather in limbo.
It came as quite a blow to Schalke fans back in January when their club captain Alexander Nübel revealed he was quitting the club on a free transfer at the end of the current season and the blow was made all the more difficult to bear when it was announced that Bayern would be his destination.
Having been through this before when Neuer left Gelsenkirchen for Bavaria back in 2011, the pain was raw for fans of the Königsblauen.
He was stripped of the club captaincy and while serving a four-match ban for his karate-kick on Frankfurt’s Mijat Gacinovic, was replaced in goal by his understudy Markus Schubert. He was recalled but two very sub-par and error-riddled performances against RB Leipzig and Köln saw him benched once more (he was even booed by his own fans against Leipzig).
Down in Munich however, Neuer has continued to maintain his usual excellent form. From a purely goalkeeping perspective, Neuer remains the better option between the posts.
Ready for the bench?
It seems highly unlikely Nübel will be happy to swap the Schalke subs bench for the one at the Allianz Arena. There have been stories that a clause was written into his Bayern contract guaranteeing him a certain amount of playing time, but this doesn’t seem at all like something that Bayern would countenance (and something Neuer would have known about before he agreed to extend).
He will also have Sven Ulreich to contend with for the Bayern reserve keeper role with the veteran keeper not laying down without a fight. Legendary Bayern keeper Sepp Maier has proposed that Bayern consider loaning Nübel out……to Schalke!
Would the Royal Blues want him back after what they see as a treachery?
In an interview with Sportbuzzer, Maier said “He has to play, he’s too good for the bench. A loan would be an option. Ideally to FC Schalke 04. He knows the surroundings and the team there.
“Nübel won’t be able to displace Manuel Neuer anyway, never – unless Neuer gets hurt. Otherwise, Nübel has to wait until Neuer ends his career. I don’t see any possibility of a regime change in goal before then. It could still be a few years before Neuer quits. Those would be wasted years for Nübel in my eyes.”
The goal at the Allianz Arena measures 8 yards across and 8 feet high- room for one goalkeeper- not two. The future just got a whole lot cloudier for Alexander Nübel.