Munich - A relative unknown talent when his move to FC Bayern München was announced back in January 2015, Joshua Kimmich already appears to boast not only the qualities but also the confidence and ambition required to earn his place in the Bavarians’ star-studded line-up.
‘A great career ahead of him’
The record titleholders are hardly short of options in the centre of the park, with no less than five FIFA World Cup winners in their midfield ranks. However, while being considered one of the hottest prospects in German football brings with it an added level of expectation, the 20-year-old’s performances for both club and country suggest he’s more than capable of coping with the pressure and the competition for places in Bavaria.
A UEFA U-19 European Champion in 2014, Kimmich was the only member of the title-winning squad to bypass the U-20s and feature in this summer’s U-21 European Championships. Germany may have fallen short at the semi-final stage against Portugal, but it was a tournament that saw the youngster’s stock rise even further, as his awareness and vision proved to be a key asset for Horst Hrubesch’s side.
“Joshua has enormous quality and is versatile in both attacking and defensive roles,” said Hrubesch of the holding midfielder, who held off the challenge of established Bundesliga stars such as Maximilian Arnold, Moritz Leitner and new FC Schalke 04 signing Johannes Geis to start three of Germany’s four games in the competition. “He is still developing and I think he has a great career ahead of him."
Talent and ambition in equal measure
Domestically, the Rottweil native made his breakthrough with Bundesliga 2 outfit RB Leipzig, where he cemented his place as a regular starter after missing the beginning of last season through injury. Uncompromising in a challenge, composed in possession and capable of thriving in a high-octane system, it comes as no surprise that both Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer and head coach Pep Guardiola identified Kimmich as a high-priority transfer target.
With bags of potential, the 20-year-old’s game is only going to improve by rubbing shoulders with the likes of Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso and his footballing idol Bastian Schweinsteiger, but he’s undeterred by the challenge of usurping the Reds’ old guard. "Obviously, Bastian Schweinsteiger is a huge role model for me, but as of next season, we'll be team-mates and, in a certain way, rivals,” Kimmich declared in a recent interview.
Building block for the future
While his talent is undeniable there are no guarantees at FC Bayern. “I hope I’ll get some playing time, but that will ultimately come down to me and my performances," continued Kimmich, who would do well to learn from the experiences of the likes of Gianluca Gaudino and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg.
Danish international Höjbjerg has struggled to truly make his mark in a stacked midfield, while Gaudino had to settle for fleeting appearances in his debut season in 2014/15. However, with Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Alonso entering the twilight of their careers, there is a clear window of opportunity for the next crop of top talent to force through a changing of the guard. If he shows signs of fulfilling his potential in the coming weeks and months, Kimmich could be the one leading the charge.