Bayern Munich loanee Josip Stanišić has become an unlikley hero in Bayer Leverkusen's remarkable push for top honours in 2023/24. - © IMAGO/Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon
Bayern Munich loanee Josip Stanišić has become an unlikley hero in Bayer Leverkusen's remarkable push for top honours in 2023/24. - © IMAGO/Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon
bundesliga

Josip Stanišić: Who is the Bayern Munich defender making an impact at Bayer Leverkusen?

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Although a defender by trade, Josip Stanišić's knack for late goals played their part in Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten domestic double. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the Bayern Munich-owned Croatia international...

Data correct as of 5 June 2024

Josip Stanišic

Age: 24 (born: 2 April 2000)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen (on loan from Bayern Munich)
Position: Centre-back/right-back
Country: Croatia (17 caps)

Key stats

Stanisic learned his craft in the youth teams of 1860 Munich and Fürstenfeldbrück, before moving to Bayern in 2017. Part of Bayern's U17 and 3. Liga-winning teams in 2016/17 and 2019/20 respectively, the 6'1" defender made his senior debut against Union Berlin on 10 April 2021, replacing the suspended Alphonso Davies at left-back. He has also operated on his natural right-hand side, in his preferred centre-half role, and even as a defensive midfielder, whilst producing a goal and an assist across his first 41 competitive appearances for the record champions.

The versatile defender featured 23 times in all competitions for Bayern in the 2022/23 campaign, including eight of the side's 10 UEFA Champions League matches. His increased playing time has also led to senior international honours with Croatia, and Stanisic now has 16 caps to his name. That includes one appearance at the 2023 FIFA World Cup, where Stanisic started - and helped Croatia win - the third-place playoff against Morocco. Stanisic also featured in the 2023 UEFA Nations League final as Croatia fell narrowly short in a penalty loss to Spain.

He joined Leverkusen on a season-long loan in August 2023, scoring against his parent club on Matchday 21. Later in the campaign, the Croatian rescued 2023/24 champions Leverkusen's record unbeaten run with 97th-minute equalisers in draws with Borussia Dortmund and Roma. Although Leverkusen ultimately lost in the UEFA Europa League final to Atalanta, still finished the season with two winners' medals, coming on as a substitute as Die Werkself beat Kaiserslautern 1-0 in the DFB Cup final. His season isn't quite over, though, as he was included in Zlatko Dalić's Croatia squad for UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany.

Watch: Josip Stanišić's opener against Bayern

Plays a bit like: Benjamin Pavard

Something of a defensive all-rounder with a leaning towards the heart of the defence, Stanisic is very much in the Benjamin Pavard mould. Like the former Bayern 2018 World Cup winner, he provides his teammates with a useful attacking outlet, as evinced by his goal and three assists in his first 20 competitive outings for Leverkusen in 2023/24.

Did you know?

Not all that long ago, Stanisic was the subject of an international tug of war between Germany and Croatia. After playing for both countries at youth level, he followed his bloodline, earning his first senior Croatia caps in October 2021.

"My family comes from Slavonski Brod, a city in the east of Croatia, so it's a dream for me to play for Croatia’s senior national team," explained the Munich-born defender.

"The Croatian FA and the coach have been making great efforts with me for several months and showed me how I fit in. I’m really looking forward to the challenge."

Watch: The best of Josip Stanišić during the 2023/24 term

What they're saying

"Josip Stanisic is already very experienced in the Bundesliga and Champions League. He's technically strong, intelligent, can play with both feet and in several defensive positions. With Josip's commitment, the competition in our squad will be intensified. He is a very ambitious player who will continue to improve the quality of the squad." - Bayer sporting director Simon Rolfes praises Stanisic after the player's loan move to the BayArena

"I was generally very satisfied with Stani. He lost the ball in a dangerous situation in the second half. Otherwise, he was very good, did well offensively and defended well. He's a reliable player." - former Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann after handing Stanisic a start for the Bavarian giants on Matchday 1 of 2021/22

"He has the experience, he has the quality. We need top players in every position. Josip can play in several positions. We are very happy with him, with his attitude every day" Bayer Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso