As Bayern lurch from one poor result to the next and seemingly want to hand over their Bundesliga crown to rivals Borussia Dortmund, the search for someone to blame intensifies. The board, the sporting director, the new coach or is the players who are culpable for the decline? With the players coming under increasing scrutiny, one star coming in for particular scrutiny is Leon Goretzka. Could Joshua Kimmich be lining up with a new partner next season?
To say that no-one is safe from the axe at Bayern following this most unusual of season’s is an over-exaggeration, but there are most certainly some under-performing stars, who should be worried with new coach Thomas Tuchel looking to exert his influence and bring in players of his choosing.
Midfielder Leon Goretzka is one player, who should be concerned with reports surfacing that Bayern are not only in the market for a striker in the summer, but also a defensive midfielder. Abendzeitung journalist Maximilian Koch reports the club are looking for a defensively strong and ball playing defensive midfielder to support Joshua Kimmich in the middle of the pitch.
Bayern have already confirmed the signing of Konrad Laimer from RB Leipzig ahead of next season, while they will not want to lose the talent they have in Dutchman Ryan Gravenberch, who is demanding more playing time next season.
The recent performances of Goretzka have been criticised with poor positioning cited in recent goals conceded against Manchester City and Mainz. For Rodri’s opener at the Eithad in the first-leg of their Champions League clash, Thomas Tuchel can audibly be heard yelling “nicht so weit Leon” (not so far Leon) as Goretzka drifts wide rather than closing the space in the centre. City’s first goal ensued.
Reports also claim the Bayern hierarchy are not pleased with the midfielder’s general progression and the feeling is that his peak displays of 2020 are a thing of the past. The 28-year-old will be observed closely in the final stretch of the season and be expected to up his game.
The fact that Tuchel substituted both Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller against Mainz showed that he isn’t afraid of upsetting the big names and Goretzka as an expected leader will be expected to lead.
One thing in his favour is his nationality with Bayern traditionally favouring a German core of players although next season could see a reduction in his playing time- something which he complained about at the start of the season when Marcel Sabitzer was being preferred.
Should Thomas Tuchel switch Bayern’s system next season from using the ‘double six pivot’ you’d imagine that Goretzka would be the one sacrificed rather than Kimmich. Where he would fit in with a 4-3-3 system or a 3-5-2 remains unclear with Gravenberch, Kimmich, Musiala, Laimer and potentially another (Frenkie de Jong anyone?) all vying for a starting berth.
Goretzka is by no means the only under-performing Bayern start or the only one under scrutiny, but the 28-year-old does need to watch his back and a rise in performance levels in the title run-in wouldn’t do him any harm.