The reason for Lahm’s decline and his reported replacement discussed

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Before really talking about Kenny Tete, I would like to focus on why we need a Lahm replacement  soon.

Philipp Lahm showed why he was the best right-back in the world back in the treble winning 2012-13 season, followed by Guardiolan era which witnessed a renaissance in Lahm’s gameplay.

Though he performed admirably well in his first season under Pep in a new position, receiving an accolade of titles from Pep, one of them being the most intelligent player the Catalan has ever worked with, the coming seasons showed his gradual decline in form.

How is this visible?

Statistics of the 2014-15 season show that there are some negative trends in Lahm’s overall game. In 2013-14, Lahm averaged 5.1 long balls per match, which often linked up to the attack or switched the side of the field from which Bayern was operating. This number dipped to 2.4 in 2014-15 and has stayed near that mark this season at 2.9 long balls per match.

The most striking trend is that of his success in taking on opposing dribblers one-on-one. In 2013-14, he successfully dispossessed the attacker 77% of the time. Last season, Lahm’s success rate in this department dropped dramatically to 54%, and he has only been successful in 50% of these attempts this season.

REASONS:

1. AGE

The Bayern Munich captain is a November-born, is aged 32. It is no secret that with age, footballers lose the pace and activeness in their game. Lahm is visibly falling prey to time, just like his Manchester United counterpart Bastian Schweinsteiger. Those timely tackles are slowly fading off his game charts because his ageing physique is unable to cope up with and give a hand to his supreme intelligence.

2. GUARDIOLAN TACTICS:

Bayern is known to have undergone a roller coaster ride of tactics under Pep, and maybe one of the sharpest things to notice in the football the Bavarians played under Pep was the shift in Lahm’s position from right-back to defensive midfield. Lahm took to the new position so well which can be credited to the Catalan as well as the world-class vision and reading ability of the team skipper who was able to hold on admirably to his new position.

However, this is the blindfold to the reality that was in hiding in Pep’s first season in charge of Die Roten. Lahm’s ‘decline’ seems to magically coincide not only with his age but also his dabbling in the mid-field position. Not just playing there but the switching back and forth from that midfield position to cover up for Rafinha at the right back spot, who often left a lot of spaces while going forward seems impressive and awesome but the reality is less impressive.

Lahm’s decline was, therefore, inevitable and predicted by quite many of the Bayern faithful due to constant shuttling between two positions.This was also the reason why the veteran retired from international football at just 30 years of age.

Now coming to the replacement. Lahm need not necessarily be replaced right from next season, but by 2018, by which Lahm would retire like he has said himself, Bayern need a competent and quality right back.

Kenny Tete

Kenny Tete

Introduction 

Bayern are reportedly in the chase for Kenny Tete who is thought to be the apt player to replace Lahm in the coming years. The Ajax academy graduate mainly plays as a right back for the Dutch side but can also play appreciably well at the center back and left back positions as well. Versatile !

Market value and Availability

Kenny Tete’s current market value amounts to 5.5 million Euros but with his current contract with Ajax running until the end of June 2018, Bayern cannot get him for cheap on account of a last year on the contract. Hence, the transfer fee would never even be close to his market value if Bayern are trying him now.

Kenny’s agent is none other than the reputed Mino Raiola, the same person who serves as an agent for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Mario Balotelli, Romelu Lukaku, Blaise Matiudi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, all of whom are well-established stars. Negotiation might therefore be easier as Raiola has got Zlatan, Mkhitaryan and Balotelli into top clubs.

Competition:

Manchester United and Juventus are in the running for Kenny Tete’s signature as well. But considering that the tradition and current status of Bayern Munich, the Germans are better than Manchester United and Juventus, Bayern could be a suitable move. But a lure of the Premier League’s money and Juventus’s similarly guaranteed Serie A success can boast a tough challenge.

Performance:

Squawka Stats throw light to Kenny’s Eredivisie performances with Ajax.

As per 90 metrics, he has had the best defense score of 23.22 in Netherlands, 2.73 tackles made, successful in 57% of his take ons, has made 3.68 interceptions, 0.36 blocks, 2.37 Clearances and has won 60% of his aerial duels.

He leads the charts in 3 of those stats, namely interceptions, blocks and also joint best in aerial duels won %. His stats give a tough fight to three other top Dutch club right backs of the Eredivisie in Santiago Aria, Karsdorp and Mattias Johansson of PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, and AZ Alkmaar respectively, even in the stats he has not topped in.

These stats are remarkable for a player who has started for the first time in Eredivisie matches this year. Even more remarkable is the fact that even then he has managed only 20 matches and clocked just 1519 minutes compared to the 2000+ minutes in the accounts of the aforementioned players to whom Kenny is compared with.

The performances he has put up with the club in the league has also been reciprocated in the Europa league this season where he has played 5 out of 6 matches for Ajax and also was the third best right back in the Europa league as per Squawka stats, third only to Antonio Rukavina of Villarreal and Matthias Ginter of Borussia Dortmund.

To add the icing to the cake, he has made his debut for the national team as well in 2015 against Kazakhstan.

Playing Style:

What makes Tete so special is that he is different from the typical ultra-attacking right-back, for instance, the likes of Paul Verhaegh, Daryl Janmaat, and Gregory Van Der Wiel.

Tete adds balance to Ajax’ defence as left-back Mitchell Dijks is the forward-roaming overlapping fullback while Tete is more about staying deep and helping Ajax build play forward by staying available as a passing option for teammates. This was basically the reserved side of Lahm under Heynckes, Louis Van Gaal, and Hitzfeld.

Tete will need to improve his ability in the air but stern competition for a starting role with Van Rhin could serve his development a lot of good. It is a hope that Tete doesn’t get distracted by his Dutch National Team call up and can continue on an upward trajectory as there is no telling the heights he could reach.

Should Bayern Go for Kenny Tete now?

I wouldn’t give a nod for now personally. Kenny Tete’s first season at Ajax has been successful but he should stay and improve further, hone his capabilities and become more consistent before he can think of a move abroad to one of the biggest teams in Europe.

If at all Bayern wants to purchase him which is understandable for his obvious potential, but they should send him back on loan to his country renown for being the best place for youngster development and get him back in 1-2 years or so.

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