Because the rampart of Gladbach holds
FC Bayern reinterprets the question of the goalkeeper
By Tobias Nordman
01/17/2023, 3:18 p.m.
After the injury of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, FC Bayern is urgently looking for a goalkeeper for the rest of the season. In the case of the solution desired by Yann Sommer, there is apparently a next basket. The people of Munich have weakened in their position.
The vision of things has changed at Bayern Munich. Not in principle, but in a crucial nuance. A new goalkeeper is still needed, but maybe that doesn’t have to be the big solution anymore. Her name is still Yann Sommer. So far, however, all of the German champions’ transfer attacks have bounced off the cover of Borussia Mönchengladbach. According to “Bild”, there were four (!) in 24 hours (!). It is not excluded that other attacks follow one another and that the bosses of Bas-Rhin abandon their resistance and receive a hot shower of money (for a new keeper Jonas Omlin?) looking forward. But in fact, it is better that no one understands this poker. “We continue to see what is possible and what options we have in the currently difficult transfer market. At some point we will make the right decision,” sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said.
And so they carefully adjust their rhetoric in Munich and slowly reinterpret the goalkeeper question. The behavior of the record champions so far has given the impression that in Sven Ulreich they have a reliable goalkeeper in their ranks, but do not necessarily trust him to be able to cope with the gigantic tasks and goals of the weeks and months to come. Again and again the old story comes up, how he fatally failed against Real Madrid in the Champions League in 2018. And when it came to who was to replace badly injured starter Manuel Neuer, candidate Ulreich didn’t been credibly proclaimed. This is changing. “We don’t have a big goalkeeper problem. In Sven Ulreich, we have a goalkeeper who excelled when he played,” said club boss Oliver Kahn. “He’s a goalkeeper you can absolutely rely on.”
Coach Julian Nagelsmann steers the debate in another direction. “Ulle knows his role, we know what Ulle can do, Ulle knows what he can do, he has confidence,” he said recently. But that’s how it is: “Everyone sees the goalkeeper situation. You have to have a goalkeeper anyway, that’s out of the question,” Nagelsmann said. “I’m going to do the fictional case now: Ulle tears his internal ligament next week. What do we do then? Then a very young goalkeeper has to (Editor’s note: The current record champion number three is 20-year-old Johannes Schenk), who played their first match today, play in the Champions League and the Bundesliga. Then everyone says, are you still very close, why don’t you take a goalie?” Phrases Kahn underlines. Phrases for an all-can-nothing-must scenario. Maybe too for a transfer of a new number two? But how convincing could this turn in the way of seeing things be?
The defense fails, Ulreich does not
There will be a first response this Friday evening (8:30 p.m. in the live ticker on ntv.de) give when the people of Munich end their free time at RB Leipzig. If a small transfer miracle doesn’t happen, the offer for the summer is much improved, Ulreich will be in goal. And because the Saxons really got going under their new coach Marco Rose, the match is already proclaimed a key duel for the Bundesliga title fight.
More pressure after the break is not possible. Especially since the Munich residents are still struggling with defensive concerns. With Lucas Hernández and Noussair Mazraoui, two players have not been able to play for a long time, and it is not known in what state Benjamin Pavard is. A lot of questions. A lot of pressure. For the club, for the coach who has to deliver internationally, there is a lot of pressure on the defense and on the goalkeeper. In the wild 4-4 test against RB Salzburg, Ulreich, who was cheered by the fans with chants (“Ulle for Germany”), was not to blame for the goals conceded, unlike his line defensive.
Ulreich knows his status. He knows that Bayern essentially trust him, but he also knows what it means to woo Sommer. Namely that the Munich bosses would be more comfortable if they had a number one established between the posts. Especially in view of the knockout stages of the Champions League when it comes to world champions Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain. A gigantic summit, a statement game for your own position in the best European football. This, it seems, is what the champions of the record are planning. Especially on question number one. And the Swiss, one of the best goalkeepers in the league for years, would be nothing else. For the rest of the season – and beyond? Supposedly, if he comes, he should sign until 2024. He would be a competitor to Neuer next season, who showed unusual weaknesses in the first half of the season and at the World Cup.
Problems persist beyond summer
Bayern put themselves in a tricky position. Of course, they can’t do anything about their captain’s injury, but they can do it to settle the open goalie issue. They didn’t build Ulreich into one big solution. This weakened their own negotiating position. Potential candidate clubs are now aware of the vehemence with which the Munich people are looking for a cutting-edge solution. It even strengthened Alexander Nübel, who left the record champions in the summer of 2021 in frustration. His loan to AS Monaco will not be terminated prematurely, the subject is “out of place”, as his adviser announced. So the Gladbachers can sit back and relax in their summer and make the most of the transfer fee, while the Munich side must look to make their number two a credible fit. And could redirect their transfer interests to a replacement for the replacement.
And the subject will not let go of the champions of the record. No one is sure when Neuer will be back on the pitch – a return to training is scheduled for April. Nobody knows how well the 36-year-old coped with the serious injury and how strong his performances will be. And summer? Would there be an open duel for the regular spot? What will happen to Nübel, whose loan ends this summer and who no longer wants to sit in the second row? Especially since he could understand the rumors about FC Bayern’s interest in BVB goalkeeper Gregor Kobel from 2024, when Neuer’s contract ended, as a vote of no confidence.
In the meantime, Kahn would not comment on speculation of an interest in national goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. Talking about it makes “relatively little sense. We can throw five more names in the ring. We’ll take our time to look at everything and then make a decision.” In the meantime: time is running out, the winter transfer window closes on January 31 at 6 p.m.
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