With a number of senior players still on holiday during pre-season, Bayern Munich played most of their friendly matches with youth players. Several of these have seized their chance, and it means the likes of Tanguy Nianzou, Josip Stanisic, Christopher Scott, Torben Rhein and Armindo Sieb could all break through into the first team under Julian Nagelsmann.
bundesliga.com takes a closer look at their credentials…
Country: France (four U18 caps)
Bayern first team appearances: Six
It’s easy to forget that Nianzou has already been in Munich for a year, but injuries (and suspension) limited the young French defender to only half a dozen appearances last season. It’s all been a learning curve for the now 19-year-old, also allowing him time to settle into life in Germany and at Bayern.
Things look to have aligned for him now, though. His omission from any international tournaments over the summer has meant he’s been able to train under Nagelsmann from the first day. “I’ve known about him and had him on my watchlist for a very long time. He’s an outstanding talent and has bags of character,” the new coach said of the centre-back.
Combined with the absences of Niklas Süle and Lucas Hernandez through holidays and injury – as well as the departures of David Alaba and Jerome Boateng – Nianzou was the most ‘senior’ central defender in training alongside Dayot Upamecano. As such, he’s been given an extended run in the team’s four pre-season friendlies – alongside compatriot Upamecano. He’s therefore expected to start on the opening night against Borussia Mönchengladbach and potentially enjoy an prolonged run until competitors fully return.
But even then, Nianzou’s versatility could easily see him feature in a back three or even holding midfield, where numbers are a bit thin behind Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. He was signed for the future a year ago, and could well make the breakthrough now with the chance he’s been presented with.
Country: Germany (two U19 caps)
Bayern first team appearances: One
Stanisic’s versatility has seen him become a useful tool for Nagelsmann in pre-season. The 21-year-old Munich native is able to play anywhere across the defence. Over the previous two years, he broke into the reserves predominantly as a right-back, but also playing in the centre and on the left. The latter is where he made his senior debut on Matchday 28 last season, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Union Berlin.
The Germany U19 international of Croatian heritage started all four games in pre-season: on the right of defence against Cologne, on the left against Ajax, in holding midfield against Gladbach, and then again at left-back against Napoli.
In theory, Bayern are well stocked on the left of defence with Alphonso Davies, Omar Richards and Hernandez (now expected to play regularly at centre-back) all on the books, but all three are doubts for the first game of the season against Gladbach. That therefore leaves Stanisic in pole position to start at Borussia-Park after earning Nagelsmann’s trust when presented the chance.
When he signed a professional contract over the summer, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said: “We back him to take this important step into the first team as well as he’s done so far as the Campus.” The fact he hasn’t returned to play for the reserves this season shows that Stanisic remains firmly in the first-team fold and – wherever on the pitch the need arises – could get more senior game time under Nagelsmann.
Position: Attacking midfield
Country: Germany (two U19 caps)
Bayern first team appearances: Two
Nianzou is the only one of these youngsters to have made more first-team appearances than Scott. The ex-Bayer Leverkusen forward made his debut in the same Union game as Stanisic before another cameo two games later against his former club. He was therefore already on the first-team radar before Nagelsmann arrived at Säbener Straße, and the new coach is rumoured to be a fan of the 19-year-old.
The team for the first pre-season friendly against hometown club Cologne was admittedly a youth squad, but Scott was picked from the start. However, he only lasted half an hour because of an injury. It meant he missed the next two games before returning for 27 minutes at the end of the Napoli match.
Scott is capable of playing anywhere across the front line behind the striker. It is an area where Bayern are well stocked with the likes of Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala and also Davies if played further forward. However, the club are believed to still want a fourth winger – and maybe already have one in Scott. His versatility may have also caught Nagelsmann’s eye as a potential wing-back opposite Davies if he opts to go for that system, as we often saw at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig.
Scott has now returned to training with the reserves under Martin Demichelis, where he will no doubt get most of his playing time this season. But the second team have now relocated to Säbener Straße and will be training close to the senior squad, meaning Scott & Co. will be under close observation and won’t be far away if needed.
Position: Central midfield
Country: Germany (one U18 cap)
Bayern first team appearances: None
Rhein has definitely been one of winners of pre-season among the youth players who were promoted to train with the first team over the summer. He’s yet to make a competitive appearance for the senior squad – and returned to the reserves to play 90 minutes the weekend before the season started – but he’s now positioned himself perhaps at the front of the midfield queue behind Kimmich and Goretzka.
The 18-year-old started the first three friendlies of pre-season, playing at least an hour each time, before Goretzka returned for the fourth against Napoli. He then replaced the Germany international for the second half. The Berlin native looked very comfortable on the ball against top-flight opposition and – although regarded as a holding midfielder – would frequently pop up in more advanced positions and even got an assist in the Ajax game.
Nobody is expecting Rhein to be starting the season, even with Kimmich yet to play any competitive minutes since returning from holiday, but there is a lack of depth in central midfield without him, especially in a more defensive role. Musiala is an option but generally a more advanced player, as is Michael Cuisance, while Marc Roca and Corentin Tolisso have both suffered with a series of injuries.
Country: Germany (two U18 caps)
Bayern first team appearances: One
The name Sieb likely first appeared on radars earlier last season when he featured in a decimated Bayern squad for the first round of the cup against Düren. Fixture congestion meant the game took place in an international break, so the team was filled by youth players like Sieb. The then 17-year-old got on in the second half for his senior debut, but only lasted 26 minutes because of an injury. The ligament tear meant he only played 15 times for the reserves and U19s in 2020/21.
However, the forward has bounced back and obviously made an impression on the new head coach. He scored the first goal of the Nagelsmann era just six minutes into the friendly against Cologne with a confident, quick finish inside the box. He played the whole game before another hour against Ajax. He then got a second-half run-out in the final friendly against Napoli.
He didn’t really play as the centre-forward he normally is for the reserves, but more as a second striker or wide forward. Choupo-Moting and Joshua Zirkzee were mostly the front men, and now Robert Lewandowski is back with the team as well after his holiday. It’s seen Sieb return to the reserves as their first-choice striker. And like with Scott, he’ll be closely monitored across the training ground at Säbener Straße.
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