Joshua Kimmich's form for FC Bayern München in the opening phase of the 2016/17 Bundesliga has been one of the talking points of the season. Now the question is, will he take that form to become the man to watch for his country as well as his club?
Such is the 21-year-old’s impact in recent weeks that it feels like almost a given that he will start for Germany when they take on the Czech Republic at Hamburger SV’s Volksparkstadion in their next World Cup qualifier on Saturday (kick-off 20:45 CEST/18:45 GMT).
It is easy to forget that he only made his international debut as recently as May of this year, in a friendly defeat to Slovakia, but he rapidly built upon that to become Joachim Löw’s first-choice as a kind of right wing-back in Germany’s run to the semi-finals at UEFA Euro 2016.
Not bad for someone who spent much of last season in central defence for Bayern, and since then the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti as coach at the Allianz Arena has seen Kimmich underline his versatility yet again with some outstanding performances in midfield for the reigning champions.
At the same time, Kimmich has turned himself into something of a goal machine, grabbing six for the season to date. His first for his country in the 3-0 win over Norway was just for starters, with five more following in quick succession for Bayern across both Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League outings.
Two in the 5-0 romp over FC Rostov in the Champions League also showed the Rottweil-born prodigy’s liking for the big occasion, but can he maintain that?
Germany were barely stretched in that win over Norway, but the Czechs and then the second part of the World Cup double-header against Northern Ireland could be more of a test for the reigning world champions.
Kimmich has already faced the latter in his fledgling international career, part of a defence that shut out Michael O’Neill’s plucky side in the final group match at Euro 2016. The return to the national squad of Jerome Boateng could provide competition – will Löw bring Kimmich’s Bayern teammate back into the fold? If so, will Kimmich stay on the flank and move up into midfield?
If selected in some capacity, as it seems he will be, the next few days could give Kimmich another platform where he can excel to back up the growing word-of-mouth about this multi-faceted talent.