On January 15th, Bayern Munich announced that they had reached an with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for the transfer of 21-year old German center-back Niklas Süle. Here, we will take a closer look and dissect what kind of player he and what this means for Bayern.
To get a better idea of who Süle is as a player, we will first take a look at some of the raw numbers he has put up this season in the Bundesliga. Remember, as is the case with most analysis from just this season, we are working with a small sample size.
Average defensive actions
Interceptions per game
Average duels won
Fouls per game
Total defensive errors
Long balls per game
Total chances created
At the age of 21, Niklas Süle is putting up some impressive numbers.
What does it all mean?
What type of player is Niklas Süle, and what does he bring to Bayern? How are his skills similar or different from the players that are already at Bayern?
For starters, the fact that Süle has statistics like these at the age of 21 is pretty impressive. Because so many defenders can play into their early 30’s, it is sometimes difficult for younger defenders to break into a team’s ranks. Because of Süle’s ability, he has been a regular starter and been performing for Hoffenheim for quite some time now. These performances have easily made him one of the most exciting defensive talents in Germany.
As a defender, Süle already has quite a few strengths. The fact that he is averaging at least two successful tackles per game is already a good sign, and it demonstrates that at the age of 21 he is better than most defenders in the Bundesliga in that regard.
In terms of tackling he has been statistically better than Mats Hummels. Hummels has averaged 2.2 tackles per game, as opposed to Süle’s 2.4. He is also above Javi Martínez who has averaged only 1.7 tackles per game so far this season. So he brings a bit of the classic #5 tackling to Bayern’s side.
He even outperforms both in blocking shots. Süle averages 0.5 blocks per game, which is above both Hummels and Javi who each have 0.4. This is another indicator that Süle is bringing some classic defending to Bayern’s backline. It also demonstrates a decent awareness on the pitch and good positioning.
Another statistic that indicates good positioning are his interceptions which average at 2.1 per game, which equals that of Hummels and is above Javi’s and Jérôme Boateng’s.
A massive strength for Süle, though, is his passing, which is very important to Bayern’s attacking scheme. Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng, and Javi Martínez are all expert passers of the ball. Often, a long ball from Boateng can bypass the midfield completely and get the ball directly to the forwards.
Süle has a pass success rate of 89.2% which is actually above both Boateng and Hummels (though only by a small amount) this season. Only Javi passes better than Süle in Bayern’s current normal starting lineup. Süle is also excellent at long balls, averaging 3 per game. This is actually better than both Hummels and Javi, but well below Boateng (who has an astonishing average of 11.5 long balls per game.
Where does Süle fit in?
As good as Niklas Süle is, he is not likely to be starting for Bayern Munich just yet. Bayern no doubt plans to have Boateng and Hummels be their ideal starting centre-back pairing for the next few years. This is assuming of course that Javi Martínez, who has been a top performer in defense this season, does not become a fixture in defense.
Süle brings some much needed depth to centre-back. Bayern Munich have four centre-backs on paper, but Javi, Hummels, and Boateng have all struggled with injuries as of late and Holger Badstuber is sadly made of balsa wood. (We really do love you, Holger.) It got so bad that Bayern loaned him to Schalke to try and get game time. It is hard to say if or when he will play for Bayern again if he cannot keep healthy.
Even this season, David Alaba has been forced to play centre-back due to injuries and fitness problems. With Süle as an option in the back-line, we hopefully never have to see Alaba there again. We may even get to see some of Javi in midfield if we are very lucky. (Do it Carlo, please.)
Süle is another option for Bayern in the back-line at the moment. He may not be as good as Bayern’s current centre-backs, but he is not that far behind either. He can slot in when players are struggling with fitness and likely perform at the level that Bayern require in almost any game.
Not only can he fill in when player are injured, but it is a long season and Bayern are involved in three competitions at any given point. Süle could play most Bundesliga games if a regular starting defender needs a rest. He can do a reasonably good job considering that he is currently a starter against any Bundesliga team with Hoffenheim and has played against the Bundesliga’s best teams.
The main reason this transfer is so great, though, is because it shows Bayern as a forward thinking and pragmatic club still. Bayern are managing to sign one of the best young talents in the Bundesliga, and for a good price too. Süle is not an immediate star for the team, but give it a few years. When Boateng and Hummels are starting to decline, Süle will have been there training with them and learning from them. In a few years, there is no reason to doubt that he will be starter material for Bayern Munich.
Bayern: Still the best run club in Europe
This transfer really is a bit of wonderful business from the Bayern brass. They have managed to capture one of the best young talents in Germany for an incredibly low price, and this transfer will likely pay off big time in the next five years.
Note: All statistics taken from whoscored.com and squawka.com