As the saying goes, you do not know what you have until it’s gone. For Bayern Munich, they would have known that life without Philipp Lahm would be difficult but six years on, his absence still reverberates around the Bayern dressing room.
While many have tried to replicate Lahm’s characteristics, the void he has left at right-back has been a consistent issue for the Rekordmeister’s previous head coaches. Joshua Kimmich is the closest Bayern have come to finding the heir to Lahm’s throne. However, his abilities are valued far more in the midfield; orchestrating Bayern’s attacks.
Lahm was the encapsulation of a leader. The Bayern captain combined his defensive ability with a deadly attacking threat. Whether he would be called upon at right-back, left-back, or even in midfield, he guaranteed stability and led by the front.
A manager’s dream, Lahm is everything Bayern are in desperate need of on the right-hand side of their defence. Nevertheless, with the signing of Kyle Walker now seeming to be imminent, they may have finally found their solution.
Walker has proven for club and country that he is one of, if not, the best right-back in world football. Part of Manchester City’s treble-winning side, Walker was an ever-present for the Citizens appearing flawlessly as a right-back and at centre-back.
Similar to Lahm, his tactical versatility is an extremely desired trait that when combined with the quality he displays in both positions, it’s fair to say Walker is a dream match for Bayern if they plan to transition between a three at the back and a four at the back. At the age of 33, Walker is still at the top of his game and with the experience he has garnered throughout the years, he has matured into a true leader for Pep Guardiola.
Captaining the Spaniard’s side on a number of occasions, Walker is understandably a key figure for Manchester City. The characteristics and qualities he possesses on and off are all too similar to that of Lahm and with younger players looking up to him in City’s side, it is no surprise that Thomas Tuchel envisions the Englishman as a leader within the Bayern dressing room.
After six long years of trying to find the Lahm successor, Tuchel may have the answer. For Bayern, it may not have been a case of not knowing what you had until it had gone, but rather, they just never really thought they would lose it.
GGFN | Will Shopland