We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. It should come as a surprise to absolutely no-one (except perhaps the player himself), that Alexander Nübel has found his first-team opportunities severely limited since his summer move from Schalke to Bayern Munich. After a season sitting on the Bavarian bench playing second fiddle, what does the immediate future hold for the heir apparent to the number one jersey at the Allianz Arena?
The logic behind Bayern’s signing of Alexander Nübel from Schalke was clear. The 24-year-old was seen as the obvious long-term successor to Manuel Neuer, and arriving on a free transfer, it seemed a no-brainer.
The issue for Nübel has however been the fact that Neuer shows no sign of releasing his grip on the number one spot at the club and continues to perform at the very top level. His displays between the posts still put him up there with the top goalkeepers in the world and gives coach Hansi Flick absolutely no reason to drop him.
All this means that Nübel remains a frustrated bench warmer. Sven Ulreich may have been content with this role before him, but Nübel it seems is growing increasingly dismayed with his lack of football. He has only made two appearances thus far this season (once in the DFB Pokal and once in the Champions League).
“This situation is unsatisfactory,” his agent Stefan Backs stated this week in an interview with Kicker. “If Alex doesn’t get to play more, we have to think about sending him out on loan in the summer,” he added.
However, talking to Bild, Bayern coach Hansi Flick had little understanding for the second-choice custodian. “Ultimately, he knew what he was getting into when he came to Bayern Munich. My job as a coach is to let the players play who are currently the best team in our opinion. And that’s why it was like that. He’s had two games and he’s also had an injury. But the clear number 1 is Manuel Neuer.”
Pipe down and deal with the situation seems to be message from the club. Should the player however force a loan move away from last season’s treble winners, who would his potential suitors be?
Reports this week have linked former French side Monaco with Nübel where former Bayern coach Nico Kovac is in charge. Closer to home both Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin have been mentioned as possible short-term destinations. Should Jiri Pavlenka move on from the Weser Stadion, Nübel would provide an excellent replacement, while Hertha’s signing of Alexander Schwolow hasn’t exactly had the success they envisaged, while Rune Jarstein isn’t getting any younger.
Nübel is caught between a rock and hard place. He was signed by Germany’s top club with eye on the future beyond Manuel Neuer, but that future still seems some way off. A season or more without regular first-team football will do his development no good at all, but then the Bavarians would be loathed to let him go should anything untoward happen to Neuer.
Stick or twist?