Joshua Kimmich: Pep Guardiola’s Protege Shows Off His Marvellous Gifts In Superb Outing Vs Stuttgart

Joshua Kimmich Bayern Munich

“Joshua was simply unbelievable. He deserves to play more often,” were the words spoken by Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola, on Joshua Kimmich, who had just put in an outstanding shift against Stuttgart.

There’s no doubting Kimmich’s talent, but it’s just not that easy to break into Bayern’s wildly gifted midfield, which includes the likes of Thiago, Xabi Alonso, Javi Martinez and Arturo Vidal. Crucially, though, the former Stuttgart and RB Leipzig starlet is, and has been, doing everything in his power to impress whenever he’s been afforded an opportunity.

And in just his second Bundesliga start of the season, against old club Stuttgart, he yet again did precisely that.

While Kimmich didn’t add any goals or assists, his utterly assured and overwhelmingly accomplished display in the middle of park saw him play a key role in the 4-0 demolition.

Kimmich acted as an ideal reference point for Guardiola’s men to facilitate their possession phases through, something that was well evidenced by figures from Whoscored stating he had more touches than anyone else on the pitch (with 123) and that he completed an exemplary 92.4% of his passes.

By dropping deep, often right alongside Bayern centre-back Jerome Boateng, he allowed the other two centre-backs, David Alaba and Rafinha, to split wide, thus ensuring Bayern always had available passing options out wide.

His team-first positioning also transferred when Bayern had the ball further upfield too, for he’d astutely sit back and allow his central midfield partner, Arturo Vidal, the freedom to venture forward with the peace of mind of knowing Kimmich had him covered.

Boateng and Alaba, whose regular forward forays are often such a massive weapon for the team, also benefitted greatly from the covering work of Kimmich, who would selflessly retreat into their central defensive positions whenever they surged upfield.

When it came to the more tangible defensive work, Kimmich came to the party on this front too. He pressed and harried his opposition with unyielding vigour, using his speed and agility to cover the turf rapidly to heap pressure on his adversaries. Unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old instigated many a turnover with his relentless approach.

The tigerish midfielder didn’t actually register a single tackle, interception or clearance in the contest, but these figures are somewhat deceiving, as Kimmich’s tireless stopping exertions couldn’t be questioned. Remaining flawless in a positional sense goes some way towards explaining this too.

Amid Stuttgart’s well orchestrated pressing setup, Kimmich notably remained unfazed in possession, as he showcased his superb vision, poise, awareness and ability to still execute despite being under a high level of duress.

His ball use was extremely tidy and thoughtful, in a game where he mainly played safe passes. But he did give us sporadic glimpses of his expansive passing game, when he sprayed delightful cross-field diagonals out to the wings and when he’d beautifully bypass Stuttgart’s lines of pressing with slick passes to the feet of Robert Lewandowski. It was all about picking his moments to undertake the more eye-catching passes, and his ability to process his thoughts and make coherent decisions with the ball served him very nicely indeed.

In the instances when he’d run with the ball at his feet, his low centre of gravity and strength saw him able to brush off challenges with ease, or cause them to foul him out of frustration (he was fouled four times).

For the man who names Bastian Schweinsteiger as one of his idols, there are certainly many attributes that Kimmich shares with the German superstar, and he showed them off wonderfully in his domineering performance against Stuttgart.

Pep Guardiola’s made it no secret how highly he rates his young charge, recently saying: “Joshua has everything a player needs. He is very intelligent, always aggressive toward the ball, strong in the air, has an eye for free space, has superb vision and knows when to charge forward and when to sit back.

“He is an amazing player and a superb investment for the future. He really has everything needed to become a great player.”

Horst Hrubesch, who coached him during his super Euro U21 campaign with Germany in the summer, also holds him in equally high regard.

“Joshua has enormous quality and is versatile in both attacking and defensive roles. And he is still right in the middle of his development. I think he has a great career ahead of him,” he explained.

It’s been fascinating to see him continue to improve with every passing game for Die Roten, and as he continues to work under the expert tutelage of Guardiola and train with his highly gifted teammates he’ll surely keep going from strength to strength.

Even though he hasn’t received as much playing time as he’d like so far this campaign, you know whenever he’s given a chance, he’ll take it with both hands.

The man who Pep describes as “almost like a son to me” undoubtedly appears destined for great things at Bayern.

Maybe one day, he might even reach the level of his idol, Schweinsteiger. He’s unquestionably got all the tools, mentally and physically, to do so.