In probably the least surprising move of the decade so far (I know…), Schalke 04 have announced that young goalkeeper Alexander Nübel will be joining Bayern Munich on a free transfer this summer. Something of a risk when you consider Bayern Munich still have Manuel Neuer as their number one – and he’s been in very decent form of late.
In response, BILD reporter Christian Falk tweeted that, despite being asked to, Manuel Neuer has “refused” to stand aside and let the youngster get some game time next season. According to reports, the veteran was asked to stand down 15 times over the course of the 2020/21 season to allow Nübel to get some valuable game time – but Neuer doesn’t want to miss a single game – even in friendlies.
The move itself seems like something of a risk on the part of 23-year-old Nübel at such a tender point in his career. It’s worth pointing out that Nübel has only made 35 senior appearances in his whole career and only really broke into the first team at the back end of the 2018/19 season.
Nübel also has competition for the back up spot next season too in Christian Fruchtl – another very highly rated young goalkeeper. However, given that Fruchtl is four years younger than Nübel it seems likely he will end up being loaned out.
Back to the main question, is Manuel Neuer right in his refusal to stand aside and let Nübel come through? In short, yes. Neuer is 33-years-old and in the life of a goalkeeper, still has plenty of decent years left in him.
Currently, he has the likes of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Bernd Leno breathing down his neck for his number one jersey for the German national side – so why would he want to play less games? Just to add another name to the list of goalkeepers trying to dethrone him?
For me, Neuer is still one of the top five goalkeepers in the world. His athleticism, shot stopping ability and leadership skills are unparalleled around the world and to be honest, I’d be offended by the club asking me to stand aside if I were him. Nübel is a great young goalkeeper – this much is true, but if Bayern really want him to get some more experience before he eventually becomes first choice, they should make use of the loan system. After all, that is what the loan system is for…
My suggestion for next season is that once Nübel comes into Bayern, they send him straight back to Schalke on loan for the season. I believe that would work well for Schalke too – given that the other option for them would be to either play Ralf Fahrmann following a year of little game time at Norwich, or go into the transfer market and spend money on a new keeper.
As it is, I expect that Bayern will adopt a strategy we’ve seen from numerous clubs over the years wherein Neuer will remain number one, playing all Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League games – while Nübel will take the gloves in the DFP-Pokal. It’s not the strategy I’d go with to be honest, I’d want to do the best I possibly could to avoid pi**ing off Manuel Neuer. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Bayern hierarchy, and likely new managerial team, will approach such a delicate situation.