New Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer has tipped Joshua Zirkzee, Leon Dajaku, Oliver Batista-Meier and Sarpreet Singh to all make the step up from the academy and cut it as Bundesliga players.
“Our aim is to bring through players from our own ranks, and we now have four players permanently with the first team: Zirkzee, Dajaku, Batista-Meier and Singh,” Hainer said, when asked if Bayern will need to spend money to achieve their goal of continued national and international success.
“All four will become Bundesliga players, I back myself to predict that. Some of them can also make it at Bayern.”
Of the four, only winger Batista-Meier is yet to make a competitive appearance for the senior team, but the 18-year-old has been making waves at youth level. Five goals and five assists in eight U19 Bundesliga matches – as well as three goals in three UEFA Youth League appearances this season – have seen the former Kaiserslautern teenager promoted to the reserves in the third division. He’s featured 14 times and scored three goals for them, and has also been on the bench for two Bundesliga and one DFB Cup game with the senior side this term.
Zirkzee has had the greatest impact to date with the first team. The 18-year-old Dutch striker has already written Bundesliga history by scoring his first two goals in just three minutes of action. Both times, against Freiburg and Wolfsburg, he turned a draw into a win for Bayern, who lead RB Leipzig by just a point at the top of the table. The Netherlands U19 international has been a fixture of the squad since December, learning from the best in Robert Lewandowski.
New Zealander Singh moved to Bavaria in the summer from Wellington Phoenix, and impressed then coach Niko Kovac enough during pre-season to feature in all five matches against Arsenal, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Fenerbahce and Tottenham Hotspur. Singh also earned a place in the squad for the season-opening Supercup against Borussia Dortmund, and he was handed his Bundesliga debut by Hansi Flick in Matchday 15’s 6-1 win over Werder Bremen.
Watch: Zirkzee was the Man of the Matchday for his winning goal at Freiburg
Of the quartet, Dajaku has the most Bundesliga experience with four substitute appearances for VfB Stuttgart and Bayern. The 18-year-old winger has been one of the creative forces in the reserves managed by Sebastian Hoeneß, with three goals and four assists in 22 games in the third division.
While Bayern have invested in their academy with the aim of producing their own talent and therefore avoiding what they see as spiralling transfer costs, the club knows the leap from youth teams to the senior squad is a large and difficult one.
Of the current first-team squad, only David Alaba and Thomas Müller came through the academy of the Munich giants. That being said, the Bavarians have produced some of the finest players Germany has ever seen in the likes of Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. And they want more.