“Don’t ever say he can’t play in defence. I just love this kid. He has everything.”
– Pep Guardiola
Date of Birth: February 8, 1995 (22 years old)
Position: Central Midfielder/Fullback
Club Appearances: 98 (11 goals)
International Appearances: 13 (1 goal)
EiF Ability Rating: 63
*EiF Ability Rating is a representation of a combination of the player’s current ability and potential ability. It is determined by multiple rounds of voting, and then an addition of the scores given by each judge. The maximum score a player can have is 80.*
We spotlighted Renato Sanches yesterday, and next up on our 22under22 list is Sanches’ Bayern Munich teammate Joshua Kimmich. The 22-year-old German international was acquired by the Bavarians for a 7 million euro fee in the winter of 2015 and was initially met with skepticism by the Munich fan base, being only 19 and having only ever played in the 2. Bundesliga. However, his breakout 2015-16 campaign helped Bayern to the double of the DFB-Pokal and Bundesliga title, and he gained the trust and adoration of the Bavarian faithful. Furthermore, his classy performances at the Euro 2016 provided yet more evidence that Kimmich is the real deal. This season, Kimmich has continued to prove himself worthy of starting for Germany and an exceptionally deep and talented Bayern Munich squad.
— EiF (@EiFsoccer) April 17, 2017
Kimmich made his way up through the tiers of the VfB Stuttgart youth academy before signing with RB Leipzig in 2013. Kimmich’s play was key in their promotion from the 3. Liga to the 2. Bundesliga. Despite his lack of experience playing at the top levels of European football, Pep Guardiola saw something in the youngster and made a gamble on him, and it has paid off for them as Kimmich has become a mainstay and is viewed by many as the successor to Phillip Lahm, who is planning to retire at the end of the season. Kimmich also proved himself worthy of a spot in the Starting XI of the German National team with his spectacular performances in the defensive line at the Euro 2016 tournament.
Kimmich flourished under the mentorship of Pep Guardiola (Photo: Goal)
Despite the great depth of Bayern Munich, Kimmich has forced his way into the first team, making 12 starts and 22 total appearances this season for the Bavarian squad. His versatility is one of his greatest strengths. In a similar vein to his fellow Munich fullbacks Philipp Lahm and David Alaba, Kimmich is capable of operating as both a fullback and a central midfielder. As a passer, Kimmich possesses great vision and range, completing almost 90% of his passes, impressive for such a young player, and averaging over two long balls per game in addition to one key pass per game. In addition, Kimmich is not one to focus on the easy pass, instead carefully selecting and brilliantly executing passes that pressure opponents. He is also a gifted deliverer of set pieces, and he routinely takes corner kicks for Bayern Munich. As a defender, Kimmich has shown his skill and bravery in executing clean and hard challenges, and despite not being the fastest player, his great positional awareness means that he rarely gets beat and is often on hand to assist other players on defense.
Kimmich in action for Germany in the 2016 European Championships (Photo: Bavarian Football Works)
Kimmich’s greatest weakness is his size, or rather, lack thereof. Standing at only 5’9”, Kimmich lacks the stature necessary to play primarily as a fullback, and his ability to win balls in the air is also affecting by his height. When playing in the center of the park, Kimmich lacks the muscular physique that defines other great box-to-box midfielders such as Yaya Toure and Paul Pogba. However, Kimmich still has plenty of time to develop that physique, which will improve his ability to maintain possession and also improve his ability to dispossess on the defensive. He is currently able to rely on his bravery and tactical understanding to bypass these issues for the most part, but there are certain situations in which he simply needs to be more physical. Kimmich also is not the fastest player on the pitch, but, again, he tends to make up for this with great positioning and reading of the pitch. If Kimmich were to improve his overall physical attributes, and especially speed and strength, he could truly distinguish himself as one of the stars of the next generation of German footballers.
Josh Kimmich had not received much international attention prior to his signing with Bayern Munich. But his 2015-16 season for Bayern and his performances at Euro 2016 put him in the spotlight, and he is now regarded as a steady, talented player who still has much room for growth. Although Kimmich has struggled a bit to find his place in the Starting XI in the past few months, there is little doubt that he will regain his opportunities soon enough. He is versatile, brave, and intelligent and will surely capture more headlines as he continues to improve.