Bayern Munich have finally confirmed the worst kept secret in the Bundesliga – Alexander Nübel will move to the Allianz Arena on a free transfer at the end of the season.
The Schalke 04 captain will link up with Manuel Neuer and Sven Ulreich after running down his contract in Gelsenkirchen, but it’s still now quite clear exactly how much game time Nübel will be getting during the 2020/21 season.
Instantly, it’s obvious that the 23-year-old will be ahead of Ulreich in Bayern Munich’s pecking order. Nübel is one of the most exciting (and already one of the best) goalkeepers in the Bundesliga, while Neuer’s current understudy hasn’t made a single appearance all season.
A back-up spot is guaranteed. But Nübel could actually offer Neuer some genuine competition for a place in their starting lineup next season – similar to Marc-André ter Stegen’s involvement with the German national team.
Nübel only really established himself as Schalke’s first-choice goalkeeper last season after being brought in for Ralf Fährmann and he ended the season having made 54 saves – including 30 from inside the penalty area and one inside the six-yard box.
He’s already performing as one of the top goalkeepers in the Bundesliga, but that alone won’t see Nübel walk into a starting role once he makes the move to Bayern Munich.
At the back end of the Hinrunde, the 23-year-old showed that he’ll need to learn some lessons from Neuer when it comes to his ability as a sweeper-keeper – Nübel was given a four-game ban after karate-kicking Mijat Gaćinović when trying to close down the ball.
On top of all the improvement that Nübel still has to go through individually, the Schalke captain could actually find opportunities to continue his development hard to come by during the second half of the season.
It’s been widely suggested that confirmation of Nübel’s move to Bayern Munich could see him thrown out of the starting lineup under David Wagner.
Schalke also have Germany Under-21 international Markus Schubert on their books and the former Dynamo Dresden star has been impressive when he’s stepped in between the sticks to cover Nübel’s absence.
Without regular first-team football during the second half of the season in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, Nübel will arrive at Bayern Munich severely short of match sharpness and maybe even confidence too.
But the biggest obstacle in Nübel’s way is, in fact, Bayern Munich’s first-choice goalkeeper, Neuer – and not for the reason that many outside of Bavaria would think.
While the perception of Neuer across Europe is that he’s been on the decline which has been speeding up after a lengthy injury two years ago, the 33-year-old is still deemed to be one of the top goalkeepers on the planet by the club’s decision-makers.
So while Nübel is already good enough to be starting at one of European football’s powerhouses, he’ll have to convince Bayern Munich’s top brass – and, importantly, whoever replaces Hansi Flick at the end of the season – that he’s up to the job.
It’s a dream move for Nübel to join Germany’s biggest club and it’s crucial for Bayern Munich to land their new long-term goalkeeper already, but there will have to be patience on both sides if the Schalke captain is going to follow in Neuer’s footsteps for years to come.