Manuel Neuer’s bizarre skiing accident has left him with a broken leg and will not be able to play for the rest of the season.
It’s a personal blow to Neuer, who will be 37 by the time he returns to the field and is in the twilight of his career. But it is an immediate concern for his club, who face the unexpected challenge of filling their captain’s gloves before the Bundesliga resumes in January.
Oliver Kahn, CEO of Bayern Munich, has put a brave face on the mini-crisis. “Of course we will think about it calmly,” he told the German football magazine kickerwhile emphasizing confidence in Neuer’s deputy Sven Ulreich.
Nübel needs guarantee of ‘maximum support’
While Ulreich offers a stopgap, there is limited desire from Bayern’s other top goalkeeper – Alexander Nübel – to return from his successful loan spell at Monaco.
Nübel signed for Bayern on a free transfer from Schalke in 2020, but despite a guarantee of playing time from Bayern, he made just four appearances before leaving for Monaco in search of minutes. Nübel, who is considered to be Neuer’s long-term replacement by Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, signed a two-year loan with the French club, including the option for Bayern to recall him after a year.
That option expired in the summer of this year, when Neuer signed a new contract with Bayern two years ago and showed no signs of hanging up his gloves. Nübel, 26 and a rising star, has become one of Monaco’s key players, but Neuer remains on top of his game and could play for a few more years.
Nübel’s time in France was successful and according to his agent, Bayern have yet to approach him about a possible early recall. But even if Nübel were to return to Bavaria in January, it should come with assurances about his long-term prospects at Bayern – as Nübel’s position has been strengthened given his development at Monaco.
“I have had no contact with Bayern and Alex has not heard from Munich either,” Stefan Backs told DPA . “It’s not an easy situation for the club, because they have to completely change their mind. You need rest for that. Maybe that’s why no one has contacted us yet. Alex signed a contract with Bayern to be there at some point time to play.”
“However, conditions must be met for that to happen. Therefore, before taking such a step, we must first consult with the people in charge at Bayern. Alex needs maximum support,” added Backs.
Navas and Livakovic in the picture
Should Bayern fail in their efforts to lure Nübel back from Monaco, who should be compensated for the loss of their first-choice goalkeeper, Bayern are reportedly looking for alternatives.
One of them is Keylor Navas, the former Real Madrid goalkeeper who has fallen down the pecking order at Paris Saint-Germain to become Gianluigi Donnarumma’s understudy. His World Cup performances for Costa Rica showed the 35-year-old still has plenty in the tank, but whether PSG would be willing to sign a Champions League rival midway through the season remains an open question.
Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic has established himself in Qatar with a string of fine performances, not least in Croatia’s penalty shootout victories against Japan and Brazil. Livakovic saved three of Japan’s penalties and denied Brazil’s Rodrygo four days later.
Sommer and Trapp attractive options
Should Germany choose to buy domestically, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Yann Sommer or Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp could be attractive longer-term options.
Both goalkeepers have impressed in the Bundesliga in recent years and Sommer, who will turn 34 next week, expires in the summer of 2023 and is reportedly already drawing the attention of Manchester United. Sommer would come in relatively cheaply and the January transfer window would be Gladbach’s last chance to get him a fee.
Trapp, 32, played at the top level for Paris Saint-Germain and was a key member of Frankfurt’s Europa League-winning side last season. Previously, a move to Bayern Munich would have been seen as a step up the ladder, but with Fankfurt still in the Champions League themselves, the 32-year-old may prefer to continue this campaign with the Eagles.
Anyway, with Neuer expected to be out for just six months, will a top-class goalkeeper be content with warming up the bench once Germany’s number one is reinstated?
Edited by: Matt Ford