- Made Germany's EURO 2016 squad after helping Bayern to the Bundesliga title.
- Thrived at centre-back amid injury crisis, despite being midfielder by trade.
- Won high praise from outgoing Bayern coach Guardiola.
The 21-year-old has taken his game to a whole new level at the Allianz Arena and has been rewarded for his ever-maturing individual displays with a golden ticket to UEFA EURO 2016 with world champions Germany.
'He can do it all'
"I love this kid!" effused former Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola in March. "He’s got it all, he can do it all, he gives everything. It’s just insane, insane. With this player you can do whatever you want."
Don Pep should know. Shorn of the services of every single one of his nominal centre-backs at various points during 2015/16, Guardiola turned to the sponge-like Kimmich. Did the former RB Leipzig and VfB Stuttgart man complain? Not once. Did he improve as a player? Absolutely.
"Looking back, it’s hard to believe that injuries to four centre-backs would have provided me with a big opportunity,” Kimmich recalled. "[Guardiola] trusted me as a centre-back and not only in the Bundesliga against lowly opposition, but in the Champions League, too. When you feel that trust, you play a lot better."
'An unbelievable player'
Aided by his Catalan mentor’s unwavering support, Kimmich made 23 Bundesliga appearances in 2015/16, as well as a further nine in the UEFA Champions League and four in the DFB Cup. He had been an ever-present whilst on loan from Stuttgart at then-Bundesliga 2 outfit Leipzig in the previous campaign, but few would have expected him to make such a telling contribution right off the bat for Germany’s most successful club.
"He has absolutely everything that a footballer needs,” Guardiola explained. “He’s very intelligent, presses aggressively, is good in transitions, strong in the air. He’s an unbelievable player and an unbelievable signing for the future of Bayern München."
An avid learner
Guardiola's lavish appraisal came after what appeared to be a very public dressing down of young Kimmich in the wake of Bayern’s goalless draw with rivals Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Matchday 25. As the Rottweil native later revealed, however, there was nothing in the slightest bit vexatious about the exchange. Mr. Scrupulous was merely making the most of the opportunity to give his star pupil some extra one-on-one tuition.
"It's the hallmark of a good coach that he's never satisfied, and that he always tries to improve you," Kimmich said when grilled on the animated post-match heart-to-heart between teacher and student. "He always wants to get the maximum out of you. After the match, he told me a few things I should have done better."
Kimmich clearly heeded the advice. He featured prominently during the run-in, winning a Bundesliga and DFB Cup double and earning a surprise call-up to the senior national team for his efforts. Whatever role he has to play at the Euros with Germany, Bayern's exceedingly receptive utility man will be all the more rounded for the experience.