"Don't worrry, Niklas, the boys have your back!" Niklas Süle's (r.) knee injury means Bayern Munich will have to reshuffle defensively. - © imago images/Michael Weber
"Don't worrry, Niklas, the boys have your back!" Niklas Süle's (r.) knee injury means Bayern Munich will have to reshuffle defensively. - © imago images/Michael Weber
bundesliga

Who will replace Niklas Süle in the Bayern Munich defence?

Niklas Süle is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Bayern Munich's 2-2 draw with Augsburg.

bundesliga.com looks at who might deputise for the Germany international in the months ahead...

Lucas Hernandez

Age: 23
Bundesliga appearances:
Six
Preferred position:
Centre-back
Also plays:
Left-back

Hernandez started the Augsburg game at left-back - the position he played in during France's 2018 FIFA World Cup win - but moved into the middle following Süle's withdrawal, and he deputised for him in Bayern's 3-2 win at Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League. In fact, the 23-year-old featured at centre-half in the majority of his appearances for former club Atletico Madrid and he was deployed in the same role in his first three outings for Bayern, until an injury to David Alaba forced coach Niko Kovac to shuffle his pack.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has described Lucas Hernandez as an even bigger loss than forward Antonie Griezmann. - 2019 DFL

Hernandez isn't as tall or quick as Süle, but he is pretty much on a par with his German counterpart in terms of aerial challenges won (80 per cent) and successful passes (93 per cent). With Alaba back, moving Hernandez into the centre would therefore appear to be the logical solution. However, the World Cup winner picked up an ankle injury in Bayern's third straight Champions League win and faces the prospect of spending several weeks on the sidelines himself, scuppering those plans.

Benjamin Pavard

Age: 23
Bundesliga appearances: 71
Preferred position: "I don't have one"
Also plays: Centre-back, right-back, left-back, defensive midfield

Steo forward, Benjamin Pavard. The 23-year-old is the only 'centre-back' other than Süle to have started every Bundesliga match in 2019/20, although just two of those outings have actually been in the middle of the defence. Five were at right-back to accommodate Joshua Kimmich playing in midfield, while the other one was on the left-hand side in the absence of Alaba. He also operated on the right-hand side of the back four during France's triumphant World Cup campaign in Russia.

Benjamin Pavard will prove to be one of Bayern's best signings, says club president Uli Hoeneß. - 2019 DFL

France drew the only match he missed, but won the six he started. And while Bayern's four league victories this term have come in games in which Pavard was stationed at right-back, that arguably says more about the balance and protection Kimmich offers in front of the back four as opposed to the Frenchman's abilities as a central defender. Indeed, statistically speaking he is as good as Hernandez in terms of challenges (59 per cent) and aerial duels won, as well as passes to a man.

Jerome Boateng

Age: 31
Bundesliga appearances: 265
Preferred position: Centre-back
Also plays: Right-back

Jerome Boateng offers a tried and tested alternative. The 31-year-old has got his hands on seven Bundesliga titles, four DFB Cups and the UEFA Champions League since joining Bayern from Manchester City in summer 2011, but has since fallen behind Süle in the pecking order.

It speaks to his professionalism that Boateng was determined to fight for his place at the Allianz Arena in the face of added competition for minutes from Hernandez and Süle. The fact he has made six appearances in all competitions so far this season is testament to his natural abilities as a footballer. The 2014 World Cup winner doesn't appear to be top of Kovac's list, but the Bayern tactician will have no qualms calling on the game's original quarter-back-centre-back whenever the need should arise.

Javi Martinez

Age: 31
Bundesliga appearances: 134
Preferred position: Defensive midfield
Also plays: Centre-back

Javi Martinez is another member of Bayern's old guard. The World Cup-winning forager's performances in his favoured position in front of the back four are synonymous with the club's 2013 treble triumph, although he proved himself to be a more-than-capable centre-back and sweeper during the Pep Guardiola years. Carlo Ancelotti was also a fan of Martinez the sentry defender, before Heynckes returned and reinstalled his charge as a No.6.

Watch: Javi Martinez's crucial role in last season's Klassiker between Bayern and Dortmund

Tellingly, Kovac utilised Martinez in defensive midfield in all but one of his 33 outings last season - including one notably combative effort in a title-race-swinging victory over Borussia Dortmund. Regular minutes have been at a premium for the Spaniard in 2019/20, and when he has made his two starts, it was alongside Thiago in midfield. Even if he is the emergency option at centre-back, it's hardly something to be sniffed at when the cover in question is a 6'3" battering ram.

Lukas Mai

Age: 19
Bundesliga appearances: 2
Preferred position: Centre-back
Also plays: -

Kovac also has the option to use first-choice full-backs Kimmich and Alaba at centre-half - the duo having moonlighted in the position on Guardiola's watch. But if the proverbial really hits the fan - let's suppose Hernandez suffers a recurrence of the knee injury that necessitated surgery earlier in 2019 - then the Bayern boss may have to look to the reserves for reinforcements.

Bayern teenager Lukas Mai has more than just a juggernaut frame in common with Süle. - imago images/Oryk HAIST

Step forward, Lukas Mai. The 19-year-old became the first millennial to play for Bayern in the Bundesliga when he made his debut in April 2018, and was subsequently dubbed "a super talent" by Süle. An ever-present for the reserves in 2019/20 and with a freshly inked contract through to 2022 in hand, 6'2" Mai could be coming to a Bundesliga 18-yard box near you sooner rather than later.