If there is one to to be learned from the first half of the 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign, it is that Niklas Süle did not join Bayern Munich to make up the numbers.

The former Hoffenheim defender has featured in 21 of Bayern's 27 competitive outings so far this season - as many as Mats Hummels and six more than Jerome Boateng. So much for being brought in as a 'back-up'.

"I'm delighted, and not only with the number of games I've played," Süle said after helping Bayern past Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup third round prior to the winter. "It's a real bonus to be working alongside some of the best players in Europe on a daily basis. I can look back on 2017 and be happy."

Watch: Süle scored on his first Bundesliga appearance for Bayern

Süle's progression in the last year alone has been nothing short of extraordinary. He was the heart and soul of the Hoffenheim side that clinched a surprise top-four finish in 2016/17, played in four of five games as Germany won the FIFA Confederations Cup for the first time, lifted the German Supercup with Bayern and made his UEFA Champions League debut.

"Niklas Süle's developing very well and will only get better," explained Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes. "He's a young player who always takes on board what I have to say to him. It's nice to have three world-class central defenders. Jerome [Boateng] and Mats [Hummels] are our world champions, but Niklas has done a good job when he's played. He's a great buy for Bayern."

At 22, there is little doubt that - along with the likes of Kingsley Coman (21), Joshua Kimmich (22) and Corentin Tolisso (23) - Süle is the future of Bayern. His induction has been equal parts thorough and smooth, but as the hulking former centre forward says himself, "the best is yet to come".

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