When Kingsley Coman trudged off injured during Bayern Munich’s 1-0 win over Hertha BSC, it was a heartbreaking sight. The Frenchman had played only nine minutes since having come on in the second half and just when it seemed as though he was getting back into the groove, disaster struck again.
It becomes an even more troubling sight when you consider the fact that Coman has already talked about a potential retirement from the game if the injury issues persist. Its not to say that this comes as a danger sign, but for a player who seemed destined for greatness not long ago, it really is saddening.
Coman returned to training at Bayern’s Säbener Straße base on Sunday but it’s still not clear as to whether the Frenchman will start against Liverpool on Wednesday night.
It is sometimes a surprise to realise that Coman is only 22. He has already played for Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. But when he arrived at Bavaria, it was considered to be a special beginning for the player. The club thrives more playing younger players than the likes of PSG and Juventus and with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery winding the shutters down, it seemed a massive opportunity for him to impress.
After having struggled to break into the Bianconeri first team, Coman did impress many in his first season in Bavaria. It was an initial two-year loan deal and Coman scored four times, assisting six times in his first season in the Bundesliga. It was a tally that can be considered very impressive for an 18-year-old that he was back then. Few knew that while that tally was the best he had before it, that’s the best one he has four years on from those days.
Injuries weren’t really hampering him. But he had two muscular problems that season, as Coman missed three league games. In the Champions League, the tally was just as impressive – an indication that he was was meant to be one of the best.
It was in the 2016/17 season that it began to go downhill. Having started the season with a knee injury, he missed the first two games of the campaign. When he came back, he was eased in after having made some appearances from the bench. Just as he made starts against FC Köln and Eintracht Frankfurt, it came again. Coman ruptured his knee and was ruled out for about six weeks.
Upon return, Coman lost consistency. He did find a place back in the first team, but he had lost nip and pace. It was a bit different to how the pre-injuries Coman was. He was the same type of player. But a little off from his usual self.
His position had also changed from what it used to be under Pep Guardiola. Carlo Ancelotti’s slightly more structured system gave him less freedom than how much of it he had under Guardiola. The Italian’s system could never get the best out of Coman.
Bayern did sign him on a permanent deal in the summer of 2017. Juventus had made massive money from a player that he had signed for free. Choosing to sign Coman for €21 million, Bayern had paid about €7m per season to the Old Lady in the loan deal.
It was now that Coman was being seen as the face of the new Bayern. He was seen as the man who would become the heir to his compatriot Ribery. He had featured at Euro 2016 and there was a valid point in that expectation.
And the 2017/18 campaign started off well. Coman was enjoying life. He scored seven times and assisted eight that season, grabbing two assists against Paris Saint-Germain. But just when the wings had helped him soar again, Coman tore his knee ligament.
That same injury came back during the beginning of this season, as the Frenchman didn’t comeback until January against Werder Bremen, after having played the first game of the campaign against Hoffenheim.
On his comeback against Bremen, Coman began to catch the eye again. He came up with a match-winning performance against Augsburg, scoring twice and assisting once against Manuel Baum’s men. A game later, the game against Hertha Berlin brought many old nightmares back.
The 22-year-old has been around for quite sometime now, despite being only two-years older to his compatriot Kylian Mbappe. And he has seen and been through a lot already. He’s not fulfilled his potential, but has played for three massive football clubs and has earned rave reviews from many keen eyes worldwide. But his story is certainly a one that defines how football isn’t as easy a game as it seems on paper.
It is full of all sorts of factors combined together. It is very easy to call a player ‘The Next Big thing’ while sitting on our couch at home, but that’s a classic case of easier said than done. One thing is certain and that thing brings a smile on your face. Coman is still the future of Bayern Munich. He might not represent the face of the next generation of the club, but he still very much is in the picture.
By Kaustubh Pandey.