Bayern Munich is a historic club; many a great player donned the red of Bayern and graced many a pitch with their skills. In the first part of this series, I look back at two players, one of whom is synonymous with this club. Then, I give you one more player from yesteryear who might have been able to solve a problem or two at Bayern at the moment.
Left-back, right-back, defensive midfield — you name it and the diminutive Bayern Munich captain could do it. He glided more than ran; his slide tackles were works of art. He led by example rather than by words. A defense which can sometimes look short on leadership used to be led by this man, a product of Bayern Munich through and through.
I always come back to this point but here it is one more time: in 2009, Lahm criticized Bayern’s philosophy around buying players and having a regular playing style. At the time, if memory serves me correctly, he was the vice-captain. Barcelona was interested in him and he could have packed his bags. He didn’t; he spoke his mind and earned a record fine. But, as so often was the case, when Lahm spoke, people listened. The club listened, adjusted accordingly and went on to reach three Champions League finals in four years, winning one.
I don’t only miss what he did on the pitch; I miss what he did off of it. He brought a sense of calmness. It is a shame he only left with one Champions League title to his name; he deserved so much more.
Mark van Bommel
Bayern’s only non-German captain in history was quite different from Lahm; feisty, temperamental and someone who loved the club, he was ready to put up a fight (and make needless gestures) when necessary. At the center of the park, Van Bommel saw (and impeded) plenty of action during matches. With VAR, I wonder just how many more cards Van Bommel would have collected; however, he would hold a team that was falling apart together. He scored some beautiful goals from long-range too during his time at Bayern.
Currently, with Joshua Kimmich’s hot and cold performances, the consistency of a player like Van Bommel would have been really valuable.
Non-Bayern player: Robin van Persie
Yes, I am going for another Dutchman. (It is too soon to miss Robert Lewandowski — I really do miss him all the same). Van Persie was talented like Bayern’s former #9. He was unbelievably elegant but strong at the same time. He collected personal awards quite often in the Premier League; he graced the pitch for Arsenal for roughly the same length of time that Lewa did at Bayern. There are few #9s who are beautiful to watch. Van Persie was one of them.
So, this is my list. Tell us yours! More of our writers will share their lists with you in upcoming weeks!