With Joshua Zirkzee breaking through at Bayern this season and the new champions giving game time to youngsters Chris Richards and Jamal Musiala in the final games of the season, spare a thought for Jann-Fiete Arp.
Remember him? Touted as a wonderkid striker in the making after banging in goals for fun at youth level then making the breakthrough as a 17 -year-old at Hamburg. He was the first player born in the 2000’s to play in the Bundesliga and scored his first goal soon after against Hertha.
Bayern snapped him up in the summer of 2019 with an eye on him graduating to providing cover for Robert Lewandowski. That dream has turned into a bit of a nightmare for the young striker with injuries and form issues pretty much writing off his first season in Bavaria. A season which should have seen him on the fringes of the Bayern first-team, has in fact seen him only a benchwarmer in the Dritte Liga.
The striker began the season on the sidelines with an illness before breaking the scaphoid bone in his left wrist during a first-team training session in September. He underwent surgery and then on his first training session after getting the green-light, fell awkwardly with scans later showing he had suffered damage to the radial bone in his left forearm.
Not the ideal start to life in Bavaria and plans to impress with the Bayern II side in the 3. Liga before pushing for inclusion in the first team were quashed. The entire Hinrunde was effectively written off with just one solitary appearance for Bayern II against Halle
Speaking in January, he told Sport1 that he didn’t regret joining the Bavarian giants when asked. “Definitely not. You have the best conditions as a professional footballer at FC Bayern, and as an injured player, you wouldn’t feel in as good hands as you do here anywhere else in the world.
“Nobody could have guessed that I would injure my arm for the second time. That was just plain bad luck. As a footballer, there’s always a risk of injury. But now this phase is over, and I can start again,” Arp said.
To make matters worse, Joshua Zirkzee grabbed his chances when used as a sub in the first team scoring late goals against both Freiburg and Wolfsburg in December.
Trainer Hansi Flick, who was clearly prepared to give the youth a chance moved to reassure Arp in March. “I spoke to Fiete for a long time. He is with the U-23’s and does well there. His way is currently there! There he can collect game practice, be given a template, and score goals. I’m happy for him because he’s a fine boy. Our focus is that Fiete will play with us at some point. But you also have to say that there is still a long way to go! We support him wherever possible.”
Arp scored his first goals of the season at the end of February and the beginning of March against Unterhaching and Großaspach in the 3. Liga, but suddenly the Corona virus lockdown stopped any rhythm/ progress. Then, as if he hadn’t suffered enough bad luck with injuries, in only the third match back after the restart, he was injured once again in the act of scoring against Eintracht Braunschweig on June 6th– this time suffering a muscle injury.
All in all, it has been a season to forget for the youngster, who many thought was destined for big things. The question now is whether a potential loan move away from Bayern might do him good. In the same way that Serge Gnabry massively benefited from his loan spell at Hoffenheim after Bayern bought him from Werder, so too could Arp gain from getting regular first-team action at a higher level than the Dritte Liga and honing his goalscoring.