Bundesliga

2016 Surprise Player of the Year: Joshua Kimmich

That Joshua Kimmich had immense potential in January 2015 was widely known - why else would FC Bayern München have swooped to sign him? Yet quite how quickly he would develop has surprised even his biggest supporters - except, perhaps, Pep Guardiola.

A foretaste of Kimmich’s ambition was clear when, speaking to the media shortly before joining up with the Bavarians, he called Bastian Schweinsteiger (then still at FC Bayern) a squad rival under the Spaniard. That Schweinsteiger was an eight-time Bundesliga champion, as well as a FIFA World Cup winner, did not faze the young man in the slightest.

Kimmich started only two league games in the first half of the 2015/16 season, but an injury crisis in early 2016 meant Guardiola gave him an extended run in the team, and he did not disappoint. The youngster started 12 matches in the second half of the season, playing as a defensive midfielder, right back and centre back in both a back three and a back four, and he delivered every single time.

Indeed, Bayern lost the only game of the Rückrunde where he was not involved, at home to 1. FSV Mainz on Matchday 24. “He can play anywhere,” said Guardiola after Kimmich’s impressive performance in Der Klassiker at Borussia Dortmund in March.

Such a strong end to the season - he lifted the Bundesliga and DFB Cup double in May - saw Kimmich picked for Germany’s UEFA EURO 2016 squad, where he went the distance in four of his country's six games, including the quarter-final win against Italy. Naturally, the native of Rottweil converted his spot-kick in a 6-5 triumph.

- © imago / MIS