Oliver Batista Meier may have the likes of Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman to compete with for a place in the Bayern Munich team in 2020/21, but it could still be a watershed campaign for 19-year-old winger.
The attacking starlet is so highly regarded in Munich that he was promoted permanently to the first-team pool by Hansi Flick at the end of 2019.
“It’s a dream to be able to play with Robert Lewandowski and everyone else every day,” he told Bild at the time. He was soon pinching himself again after being called up to a Bundesliga squad for the first time on Matchday 15, one of 11 occasions in 2019/20, even making his top-flight debut against Fortuna Düsseldorf at the end of May.
“Oli’s a huge talent and has shown the quality he has,” said former Bayern defender Martin Demichelis, now a youth coach at the club. “It’s important that the boys always give it absolutely everything they’ve got, whether with the first team, reserves or in the youth teams. That way they’ll take the next step in their development.”
But why might that next step for Batista Meier come over the coming season? Well, Bayern have traditionally had a quartet of wing specialists every year, aware that they are not only the kind of players who can decide tight games, but also that the demands of the position - high speed, fast-twitch muscle fibres, twists, turns and lunging (often mistimed) tackles from defenders – mean injuries tend to come with the territory.
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery - the mainstays out wide for the past decade at the Allianz Arena before moving on last summer - missed a combined total of 64 Bundesliga games in their last two seasons alone at Bayern.
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They had back-ups such as Xherdan Shaqiri (2012-2015) and Douglas Costa (2015-2017) for cover, before Coman (2015-present) and Gnabry (2018-present) took over the reins in 2019/20, but even the latter duo have missed a collective 76 league matches in the last three years.
Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho were available last season, but with their loans from Barcelona and Inter Milan respectively coming to an end, a space has opened up in the squad for Batista Meier to stake his claim.
As teammate Alphonso Davies has showed over the past few months in stepping up following injuries to Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle, age is no barrier at Bayern if you have the quality.
And Batista Meier has that by the truckload. He joined Bayern at the age of 15 from Kaiserslautern in 2016 and won the prestigious Fritz Walter Silver medal at U17 level two years later.
Already a Germany youth international, last season alone he registered 12 goals and seven assists in 11 outings in the U19 Bundesliga, including five goals in a single game against Hoffenheim.
As if that were not enough, he added a further three in four UEFA Youth League appearances and also played under new Hoffenheim first-team boss Sebastian Hoeneß in the Bayern reserves, chipping in with four goals and an assist in 18 games to help the side to the third-division title. There is style to go with the substance, too.
“My dad’s German and my mum’s Brazilian,” explained the 5’10” winger, who cites Kylian Mbappe and Neymar as his role models. “I feel more Brazilian but sometimes my German side shines through. In terms of technique, I’m probably more Brazilian.”
Clearly gifted and with opportunities likely to present themselves, then, all Batista Meier needs is the backing of Flick. That also looks to be a given following the experience he was afforded at senior level last season, as one of five Bundesliga debutants from the Bayern academy - alongside Joshua Zirkzee, Sarpreet Singh, Chris Richards and Jamal Musiala.
The appreciation is certainly mutual. “I like [Flick] a lot and I think he can really help young players,” Batista Meier said. “You need someone to nurture the youngsters and I think he’s that kind of person. He talks to us a lot, speaks to us all individually and tells us what was good and bad.”