Rafinha, Sebastian Rudy or Joshua Kimmich? Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti is spoiled for choice when it comes to replacing Philipp Lahm next season. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Rafinha, Sebastian Rudy or Joshua Kimmich? Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti is spoiled for choice when it comes to replacing Philipp Lahm next season. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Who will take Lahm's place at Bayern Munich?

Philipp Lahm knew exactly what he was doing the day after Bayern Munich's title celebrations, his first day as an ex-professional footballer. "I will take my son to the kindergarten, empty my locker. And it's also my mum's birthday," said Lahm. "Franck Ribery told me he would buy me a season ticket for next season if I wanted one."

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While the former Bayern and Germany captain has a clear plan mapped out for his future, that of how his club will take on the mammoth task of trying to replace him is still very much in the developmental stage.

Who can blame them? How do you replace a legend? To help out the powers-that-be at Bayern, bundesliga.com takes a look at the options being weighed up at the Allianz Arena.

Rafinha: The faithful understudy

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He's been waiting a while. Since 2011, the former Schalke man has had to be patient, though that wait is now at an end. "Next season will be my season and I don't see anyone else other than me playing at right-back," he told bundesliga.com recently. More reliable in defence than he was during his days in Gelsenkirchen, the Brazilian's claim he has "done well every time I've played" holds up, as does, according to insiders, that he is "a leader in the dressing room."

Watch: Rafinha was on target in Bayern's 3-1 win over Ingolstadt on Matchday 3

Pros: Experienced, and knows the position inside out. He has built an understanding with the wingers ahead of him even if he is not as precisely on their wavelength as Lahm was.

Cons: Thirty-two in September, he does not represent even the medium-term future. One question that needs to be asked: how important is his role in keeping the dressing-room happy? And how would he feel about keeping up that role if he is passed over when he feels his time has come?

Joshua Kimmich: The Chosen One?

"It would be good if Bayern planned with him in this position in the future." Joachim Löw obviously has his own reasons for wanting Kimmich established at right-back given he has to solve the Lahm conundrum himself. Given the youngster's performances at UEFA EURO 2016, Löw's statement has substance to back it up, and the Germany coach is not the only one who sees more than a little bit of Lahm in the 22-year-old. "He'll be the successor to Philipp Lahm with us, that's clear," said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who should know.

Watch: Kimmich netted his first-ever goal for Bayern on Matchday 2 in 2016/17

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Pros: His displays in the role are already more than promising enough to suggest he could emulate his predecessor. He averaged a team-high 12.3 kilometres per game last season and was even entrusted with corners, meaning his has the engine and the ability to strike a ball accurately from wide positions required for the role.

Cons: Unlike Rafinha, he's not a specialist in the position, but then again, neither was Lahm when he returned to Bayern from Stuttgart. Placing him in the back four could be midfield's loss, but Ancelotti's need for a solid back four is greater.

Sebastian Rudy: The new arrival

The summer addition from Hoffenheim is Kimmich's positional doppelgänger, having switched from defence to midfield and back again a number of times throughout his career. It is perhaps telling, however, that Löw did not suggest Rudy as the ersatz Lahm of the future, probably because he has already tried him in that role and thought, 'Maybe not.' Julian Nagelsmann clearly thought the same, employing Rudy in midfield for virtually all of last season, even if his 3-5-2 formation did not happily lend itself to a classic full-back role anyway.

Alternative solution: Gung-ho!

Pros: Like Lahm, Rudy rarely has a bad game. Strikes a mean ball, as testified by his set-pieces last term, and can score goals too.

Cons: Even more so than Kimmich, you get the feeling he is not so much pressed into the role as dragged kicking and screaming. And if Kimmich can play there more effectively, why waste Rudy's passing range and industry out wide when he can be more influential through the middle, particularly with Xabi Alonso also gone?

What if Ancelotti went rogue tactically? Admittedly, it is not in the former Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid boss' make-up to go too wild, but he certainly has the personnel to follow Nagelsmann's example and opt for a back three, meaning there is no need for a classic right-back.

Think about it: Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Niklas Süle with wing-backs — take your pick from Kimmich, David Alaba, or even Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Douglas Costa or Kingsley Coman if you're feeling impish — dropping into a back five without the ball, pressing high, offering width and wreaking havoc when Bayern have it.

Watch: Bayern's tactical masterclass

Conclusion: Vorsprung durch Kimmich!

Pros: Wow! What a mouth-watering prospect! The distribution skills of Hummels marries nicely with Boateng and Süle's 'none shall pass' ethos, providing Bayern with a solid foundation… and that's before you get through to Manuel Neuer. With the attacking firepower at Ancelotti's disposal, it's a bit of a shame to set up defensively at all for some games? They could just back themselves to score more goals than their opponents as they almost certainly will.

Cons: Ancelotti's natural preference for a back four will be tough to override, and it will also hinge on Boateng's unproven ability to steer clear of injury, though Javi Martinez, Kimmich or Alaba could provide cover. Also, while this daring formation would surely still bring results against all but the most stubborn of Bundesliga opponents, the UEFA Champions League will call for a more cautious approach.

Whether he likes it or not, Kimmich has to be the man to fill the boots of Lahm. He has the ability, he has the attitude, he has the tactical nous to do it. He's already shown he can, and will surely only get better. He is the designated successor for Löw and Bayern.

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