Joshua Kimmich is not a nobody – quite the contrary. He joined Bayern in 2015 from the upcoming RB Leipzig, and the rest, as they say – is history. 

The Rise and Stagnation

Pep Guardiola was personally involved in the move, convinced of Kimmich’s potential. The Catalan’s intuition was spot-on – besides the ageing Thomas Müller, Kimmich has become Bayern’s most iconic player in recent years. Initially redefining the role of a right-back, he established himself as a force to be reckoned with.  

Kimmich eventually transitioned to midfield, where he became an integral member of the double pivot, often interacting with Thiago or Goretzka – one of the major secrets behind Bayern’s success under Hansi Flick in the pandemic era. Although this was only supposed to be the beginning of his glory days, it only went downhill from there.

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Bayern made two major mistakes in the Kimmich case, one due to cultural dynamics and the other due to a lack of transfer strategy. As mentioned, Thiago was a major tool for Kimmich’s success in the midfield.

Despite battling frequent injuries, Thiago Alcantara was the only player who could support Kimmich in that interior role. During this short-lived partnership, Kimmich was the best interior in the world. He was one of the smartest players in the squad, especially when it came to passing and breaking through the lines. 

Thiago played deeper than Kimmich, which allowed the German star to start his adventures higher up the pitch. Goretzka, arguably as a stop-gap solution to that sudden absence, could do the job, but Bayern urgently needed an upgrade once Thiago left for Klopp’s call from Liverpool.

However, this convinced Kimmich (through his own will or the dire lack of a #6) that he should be a six. It’s not rocket science to understand he simply isn’t fit for this role.

Kimmich’s prowess was never about physical duels – which explains why he should not be playing as a #6. Kimmich, who should be the center of Bayern’s project, didn’t get the support he needed from the club.

A Rift Widens

The rift between Kimmich and the club was fueled by media speculations of his alleged arrogance – which is truly a common issue at Bayern.

In recent years, the Bavarian club has seen a rise of players with power who increasingly clashed with coaching strategies despite the multiple changes. Just when Thomas Tuchel repeated that he had no #6, Joshua Kimmich arrogantly replied that he could play that role – and that is when the problems began.

Uncertain Future and Legacy at Stake

This is not the first time Joshua Kimmich has been seen with tears on the sidelines or post-match. It is a shame that the man who was supposed to carry a career like Lahm’s is set to be kicked out this summer, especially considering the wonderful times he has had and the fact that he should be entering his prime version. 

Instead, he will be sold – media reports claim that he would either go to the Premier League or La Liga.

For a long time, the world has heard about Pep Guardiola’s craving for Joshua Kimmich. Pep moulded him, and with City’s team, a double pivot consisting of Kimmich and Rodri would scare most of Europe. 

But Chelsea, Arsenal and all major PremHeads have also been quoted as potential destinations while in Spain, both Real Madrid and Barcelona have often been linked with the German midfielder. 

However, the economic reality of Barcelona, heavily impacted by the works at Camp Nou, would probably leave them out of the race. It is more likely to see Florentino Perez add Kimmich at Real Madrid to replace another German who left Bayern for Los Blancos – a certain Toni Kroos. Joshua would indeed provide a solid base to replace the ageing Kroos and blend in well with Tchouaméni, Camavinga and Bellingham.

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The Broader Picture

Too often, Bayern’s lack of a #6 has seen them unable to handle the heavy transition-based soccer of the Bundesliga. But Bayern refused to invest in a #6. The only move the club attempted in the last years was for Fulham’s Palhinha last summer, a deal that fell apart at the last minute. 

It is ridiculous how the media has gone for Kimmich’s head over a simple lack of attention to squad management. In the last two years, German media have regularly scapegoated Joshua for all the counter-attacks Bayern could not handle instead of seeing the team’s broader systemic deficiencies.  

Bayern Munich’s transfer decisions, notably the acquisition of Sadio Mané from Liverpool, have raised eyebrows. Yet Joshua Kimmich often finds himself in the crosshairs of criticism for the team’s shortcomings, particularly for his supposed lack of physicality. 

The Kimmich case is hilarious from a neutral perspective because it displays the wider trend of automatically blaming players who are among the smartest and the most creative for lack of physicality while neglecting more profound strategic flaws within a team, such as poor squad management or investment in the wrong players. 

At the same time, the Bavarian club is about to part ways with Kimmich while retaining less impactful players like Goretzka and Laimer, whose performances are arguably worse. 

The wider framework of soccer trends shows a lack of awareness when it comes to basic soccer analysis. Many fans are ready to point fingers at elite clubs for conservative playstyles, a lack of flair, and, therefore, entertainment, while at the same time blaming the said creative players for showing a different way of playing soccer.

I’m old enough to remember ‘the old good times’ when Bayern was a well-managed club. But the abrupt dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann in favour of Thomas Tuchel (who will leave this summer due to the terrible football that has been on display since his arrival) leaves some questions – one of them will be why the club did not handle the Kimmich case better. 

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