After signing a new contract extension with Bayern Munich through to 2025, Joshua Kimmich is well on his way to becoming the Bavarian club's next captain and legend.
The 26-year-old has pledged his long-term future to the record champions, and numerous records are his for the taking over the next four seasons, during which Kimmich seems set to cement his reputation as one of Bayern's and Germany's greatest ever players.
"Joshua will develop his enormous qualities as a leading player at FC Bayern in the coming years and make history," said club sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic on announcing the extension.
"He’s recognised the value of playing long term at a club, being able to shape things and being a part of great success and an era. He knows he has the opportunity at Bayern to make all his ambitious goals a reality," added new CEO Oliver Kahn, echoing the thoughts of most fans and observers - some of whom will have earmarked the Rottweil native as leader material not long after his move in 2015.
The only oddity in the fact Kimmich made his professional debut in Munich is that he was not actually wearing a Bayern shirt. On 10 August 2014, a 19-year-old Kimmich stepped out at the Allianz Arena for the very first time. Representatives of Bayern were conspicuous by their absence as Kimmich helped RB Leipzig to a 3-0 win over the other tenants of Bayern's plush home at the time, 1860 Munich, though Bayern were keeping a close eye on one of their guests that day.
Just under five months after that trip to Munich, it was announced that Kimmich would become a permanent Allianz Arena resident from the following summer. He went on to play 27 times in Bundesliga 2 for Leipzig before reaching his destiny, because Munich was not only where his professional career started, it was where Kimmich was and is destined to feature prominently in the history books.
"He's the player that [then sporting director] Matthias Sammer and [then head coach] Pep Guardiola really want," Bayern said in a statement confirming Kimmich's signing. It stands to reason, then, that he was soon making his Bundesliga debut, back at the Allianz Arena again in the 2-1 win over Augsburg on 12 September 2015, just over a year after he first took to the turf where he has now met every single blade of grass.
It was another symbolic moment in Kimmich's career that, on that day in Munich, he entered the field of play as a replacement for Philipp Lahm. A replacement in more than just one sense, as he would later follow very closely in the former Germany captain's footsteps. It was equally symbolic that Kimmich would end that debut Bayern season with a Bundesliga and DFB Cup double, since trophies have become a regular feature in his career.
"It is definitely my objective to define an era with Bayern Munich," Kimmich said in January 2020. "The biggest objective is to win the Champions League." He did not have to wait much longer before fulfilling that objective, with a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain eight months later taking Kimmich and Bayern to European football's Zenith.
Kimmich's name would go down with that of Bayern's in the history books as the winners of a sextuple, with the UEFA Super Cup, DFL Supercup and FIFA Club World Cup following the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League titles in a spectacular, trophy-laden 2020.
More trophies and titles will inevitably follow for Kimmich, who has extended his contract with the record champions through to 2025 and has his sights firmly set on Thomas Müller and David Alaba's record of 10 Bundesliga titles. If and when he does break into double figures for Bundesliga titles – and he only needs a further four – he seems predestined to do so with the captain's armband a firm part of his matchday uniform, since few would argue against Kimmich being a Bayern captain in the making.
Like Lahm both for Germany and Bayern, Kimmich has shown flexibility and adaptability in fulfilling a variety of roles across the field. He ranks among the world's finest right-backs on his day, but is a tailor-made No.6 at heart. It is no coincidence he inherited that very number on his jersey following the departure of Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool in 2020.
"He's a leader at such a young age and in such an ensemble of stars, and his teammates are always trying to find him because they know what he gives them," said former Bayern legend Lothar Matthäus. "He is the best No.6 in the world."
Watch: Joshua Kimmich - Bayern's indispensable leader
Such praise is not isolated, but to come from a man whose name is so intrinsically linked with some of Bayern's and Germany's greatest glories just lends further weight to the growing sensation that Kimmich will one day be sharing Matthäus' Bayern legend status.
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