Alexander Nübel has long been earmarked as Manuel Neuer’s natural successor at Bayern Munich. Following the same path from Gelsenkirchen to the Allianz Arena, the goalkeeper seemed destined to join the pantheon of great number ones in Bavaria from Sepp Maier, to Jean-Marie Pfaff, and Oliver Kahn. However, with Neuer showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, Nübel’s seemingly predetermined career path may be in jeopardy.
36-year-old Neuer’s contract at Bayern had been due to expire at the end of the current season, but back in May the club extended his deal by another year until 2024. “Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world and has set the international standard for years” CEO Oliver Kahn said. “It is an incredible achievement to be constantly world class for such a long period. Manuel is one of the defining figures in the history of FC Bayern.”
Praise indeed, but the longevity of Neuer’s performance levels mean that his heir apparent has to wait in the wings even longer and questions will be raised as to whether Nübel will actually ever succeed the evergreen Neuer at Bayern.
The 25-year-old keeper’s two-year loan deal with Monaco should come to an end at the end of the season, but he has already stated that he is not prepared to return to Munich to act as the club’s number two goalkeeper as back-up to Neuer.
In an interview with Luke Entwistle at ‘Get French Football News’ Nübel outlined his views on a potential Bayern return at the end of the season. “Game time is definitely the most important thing. If Manuel is still at Bayern, and he does have a contract until 2024, it makes no sense to go back. I have a contract at Bayern, but I also think for them it makes no sense to have both me and Manuel,” Nübel explained.
“There are good options to play at a good level. Everything is open. [Monaco] are also an option, of course,” he added.
Nübel’s Bayern contract runs until 30th June 2025, and it will be very much up to the Bavarians to convince him that he is their long-term hope in goal. He is playing well in Ligue 1 with Monaco, and it could be that his long-term future lies in the South of France or even elsewhere if his performances attract the interest of other clubs.
Following a top display against Lyon earlier this month Monaco coach Philippe Clement claimed that “For me, Alexander Nübel has the quality to become one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, in the top 10”.
The club’s sporting director Paul Mitchell added to the praise saying, “Alex is a top player. This summer, it was one of the areas where we said we couldn’t improve. I don’t understand the harshness towards him. From January to May, there weren’t many better goalkeepers in Europe.”
For so long, it seemed that the Neuer to Nübel goalkeeping transition was predetermined and a foregone conclusion. Neuer’s superhuman longevity and Nübel’s willingness to wait might however throw this into doubt. It is also not beyond the realms of possibility that Bayern discover another talent they earmark for the number one role when the evergreen Neuer does finally call it a day.