Competition in the heart of the Bayern Munich defence is fierce. Two world champions in Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were joined in the summer by Niklas Süle from Hoffenheim. It makes a trio of German central defenders vying for two spots, and the new signing is feeling the belief in him from coach Jupp Heynckes. Nevertheless, Süle believes he has to continue learning from two of the best in the business.
“I train with Jerome and Mats every day, and as a young player you watch everything they do. Their body language in training is always professional,” Süle enthused of his club and country teammates. “The way they approach training; the way they eat – it’s all something I can learn from. I chose to come here so I could play alongside the two best defenders in the world.”
Learning from two World Cup winners is certainly a smart career choice, and it appears to be paying off as the 22-year-old goes from strength to strength with Bayern. It’s a progression that’s seen the former Hoffenheim man receive plenty of minutes on the pitch in recent weeks.
“I’m pleased with the trust shown in me because we have a lot of games this year so everyone will be needed at some point, but overall I’m happy with my playing time,” Süle said in the build-up to Bayern’s UEFA Champions League clash with Anderlecht.
However, the 6’5” defender claims he’s not at Bayern to lay down a challenge to Boateng, who has often struggled with injury: “I’d never put myself on the same level as him. When Jerome’s fit, he’s one of the best central defenders in the world. If I even came close to achieving what he’s done in his career, then I’d be very pleased.”
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One step on the way to emulating his idolised teammate would be with silverware. Bayern already lead the Bundesliga, but currently sit second in their Champions League group behind Paris Saint-Germain – and as Süle is discovering, second is never good enough when you’re at Bayern.
“It’s nice that we’re already through [to the knock-out stage], but we want to win [at Anderlecht],” Süle stressed, adding that he hoped Scottish side Celtic may do the Bavarians a favour against PSG and set up a shootout for top spot in the final group game at the Allianz Arena.