Kimmich tipped to take on Lahm's Bayern role

Bayern youth coach Thomas Dollner showing children the basics of dribbling, shooting and passing at a free public football clinic yesterday.
Bayern youth coach Thomas Dollner showing children the basics of dribbling, shooting and passing at a free public football clinic yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

When two veteran Bayern Munich stars made the decision to hang up their boots earlier in the 2016-17 season, there were gaping holes to be filled in the team's starting XI.

As much as Xabi Alonso is a footballing great, Philipp Lahm's retirement means the club have lost their captain and right-back fixture over the last decade.

"Well it's a big gap, I don't think that we can fill it right away at 100 per cent, it would take time," admitted Bayern youth coach Thomas Dollner, 55, yesterday.

"Everybody thinks about Philipp Lahm being the World Cup champion of course, but he also (needed time to develop as a player) and so we have to have some time to give the player who is going to play his position, we have to give him time as well.

"Probably (Joshua) Kimmich is going to play in his position. He's a top player, German national player, young player, and not at the end of his development."

The 22-year-old Kimmich, who joined Bayern from RB Leipzig in 2015, is a versatile midfielder who is comfortable playing at right-back as well. He was named as the starting right-back in the Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament.

"In every big team, there is a period where there is a transition coming out, and this is the moment now for our team," added Dollner, who is in town as part of Football In the City - a series of events held in the lead-up to next month's International Champions Cup in Singapore.

Bayern will be joined by English champions Chelsea and Italian giants Inter Milan.

"We'll walk through this transition period over the next one to three years. We will definitely have a strong team, a very competitive team, how far we can go we'll see, but we'll always try hard."

Despite being in a period of transition, Bayern can rely on their academy to produce a steady stream of talent. After all, current first teamers Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller and David Alaba are all products of the institution.

"It's all about scouting, seeing the talent of a young player early, keeping him in the junior academy and then growing and comforting him through individual age groups and through the ups and downs of (being) a junior player," said Dollner.

"We of course work hard, we try to have experienced coaches, and try to give the players in our academy the best possible conditions to develop their game."

Dollner conducted a free public football clinic for children at Clarke Quay yesterday, teaching them the basics of dribbling, shooting and passing.

Charles Houvenaghel, seven, who plays football daily, said he "enjoyed the clinic".

The Belgian schoolboy, who aspires to be a goalkeeper, said: "I like Bayern and the coach was very nice, he taught me dribbling."

Turning his attention to the ICC, Dollner said: "I'm looking forward to the event. It'll be great, with top teams playing each other in this beautiful city and great stadium.

"I think it's going to be a huge success for this city and of course an event that we are very much looking forward to as a club."

•Tickets to the ICC Singapore can be purchased at Sports Hub Tix.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Kimmich tipped to take on Lahm's Bayern role'. Print Edition | Subscribe