Scanning Bayern Munich’s teamsheet for the game against Hannover on Matchday 31, perhaps James Rodriguez getting the nod was a surprise, especially in light of the Bavarians’ impending UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
But Goodness Mai – who is this kid at the back?! bundesliga.com trains the lens on nascent defender Lukas Mai…
How old is he?!
Bayern have handed Mai his Bundesliga debut at the tender age of 18 years and 22 days old. Born on 31 March 2000 – the same day, though 61 years later than former West Germany and AC Milan legend Karl-Heinz Schnellinger – Mai becomes the first player born in the 21st century to run out for the Bavarians. David Alaba and Toni Kroos are among the few players to have made their Bayern debuts at a younger age.
What position does he play?
Still baby-faced, Mai nonetheless cuts an imposing figure at a little over 6’2” tall. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, his favourite position is at centre-back. However, like Schnellinger before him, Mai is equally comfortable playing at full-back and even defensive midfield, and even chipped in with a goal in the 2-1 win over Wehen Wiesbaden’s U19s in November. Stopping goals is very much his preference, though.
Is he any good?
Well, he’s the captain of Bayern’s U19s, and was part of the Germany squad – alongside Hamburg’s prodigious striker Fiete Arp and the Bundesliga’s second-youngest ever debutant, Yann Bisseck of Cologne - that got to the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India last October. Mai played all five games, winning praise for his reading of the game. The Bundesliga is a step up again, but having recently signed his first professional contract at Bayern - keeping him at the club until 2021 - and for Jupp Heynckes to blood him so soon suggests that the future’s very bright indeed…
Mai looked assured against Hannover, playing 90 minutes as Bayern kept a clean sheet.
Pass completion: 90 percent
Tackles won: 7
Distance covered: 6 miles
Top speed: 18 m/ph
What are they saying?
“Lukas Mai is a super talent, a player the team supports and trusts. He worked very hard for this and it’s just the beginning for him.” – fellow Bayern centre-back Niklas Süle
"Of course, he could have made mistakes, but he didn't. I'm very satisfied. I was impressed with him in training and then in friendly matches when he looked unruffled. He keeps it simple, is good in the air, and quite good at starting play from the back." - Jupp Heynckes
"He did a good job. He got more confident as the game went on. He came into the midfield once or twice with the ball and you could see that he radiates calm there, which is a very good start." - Thomas Müller
Watch: Süle describes Mai as "so talented!"