The rise of Thiago, FC Bayern’s central-midfielder turning into a world-class player, is the highlight of our power rankings for the 2016-17 season.
Man of the year
9.5: Thiago Alcântara
Thiagolicious, exquisite or simply excellent? Pick your word. The Spanish midfielder, who was a bit inconsistent but sometimes amazing in his first few seasons in Munich, stood out as the top performer this time around. Intelligent passing and brilliant use of space made him more dependable than ever. (Winter break rating: 9.5)
Verdict: It was a smart idea to sign him until 2021. Sorry Barcelona.
9: Mats Hummels
Mats Hummels is the best signing the Bavarians made last summer. His return to Munich has been a highly successful one. His defensive reliability (those tackles from behind!) and brilliant occasional finish in the penalty area make him the number one defender in the squad. He even offered excellent performances while not fully fit in the late season. Hats off, sir. (Winter break: 8.5)
Verdict: Build around this guy.
9: Arjen Robben
Watching Arjen Robben run down the right wing, cut inside and score a classic goal with a curling, left-footed shot gives a warm feeling to Bayern fans. At 33, he still looks like a player in his prime. It goes beyond that: he kept fighting for all the balls in losing causes in April. You cannot ask for more out of a veteran. (Winter break: 8)
8.5: Manuel Neuer
Where it not for Neuer’s saves, Die Bayern would have crashed harder against Real Madrid in the Champions League. If not fully utilised over the course of an entire season due to the dominant nature of FCB’s passing game, he was huge between the sticks when he had to be big. Still the best goalkeeper in the world. (Winter break: 8.5)
Verdict: Can we sign him until 2050?
8.5: Robert Lewandowski
If you could mint coins with Robert Lewandowski’s face, there would be two sides. The first would be a fit god who discovered free kick powers and scored many amazing goals. FC Bayern may have earned points solely due to Lewy’s excellence in a handful of games. The flip side of the coin would, however, show a frustrated Robert who pulls his hair out after failing to finish chances in the late season. The brilliant striker who could have done just a bit more. (Winter break: 8.5)
Verdict: Keep, of course, but get a backup.
8: Arturo Vidal
It felt like the pressure of big games broke Arturo Vidal late in the season. Dominant before April, he became dangerous for his own team when his ability to win a game was the most needed. He never deserved to see red against Real Madrid, but the observation nevertheless applies. (Winter break: 8.5)
Verdict: A good talk with the coach, and a warning, would be in order.
8: Philipp Lahm
Who hates Philipp Lahm? Nobody. We can still say that he made the right decision when announcing his retirement. His decline is slow but irreversible. The captain did not have the same impact than in the past during the second half of the season, although the performances were honest. (Winter break: 7.5)
8: Javi Martínez
This rating is harsh, but you are as good as your latest performance in sports. Although solid at the back for long spells, Javi fell apart against Real Madrid in the Champions League and threatened to take the team down against Dortmund in the Pokal. He looked out of place at centre-back in decisive games. (Winter break: 8)
Verdict: Return to central midfield at once!
8: Joshua Kimmich
I am downgrading Kimmich, but it is by no means because he disappointed me. The young German international bagged seven goals in a strong beginning of the season, but Carlo Ancelotti kept him on the bench far too often for him to shine. This is a shame because Kimmich is one heck of a player who can pass and score from the midfield. (Winter break: 9)
Verdict: Keep and extend beyond 2020.
8: Franck Ribéry
Had the season ended in late March, he would pass any test with flying colours. Performances in April however spoiled the sauce for the French winger. He is likely to decline a bit more after turning 34 and that is a concern. (Winter break: 8)
Verdict: Keep, but decide on a long-term replacement.
The two halves of the season have been contrasting. The first made him look better than Philipp Lahm, of all people, at right-back. There was a point when I made a credible case for having him start the big games because he performed better. In the second half, the Brazilian lacked incisiveness when attacking and made more defensive mistakes. He can be more consistent. (Winter break: 8.5)
7.5: David Alaba
Do not let a couple of direct free kick goals fool you. Alaba is the biggest disappointment of the season at FC Bayern. He should be the best player in red because he is the most talented man in the squad. He is capable of dominating a game from left-back to central midfield to playmaker. Instead, he made costly mistakes that left the defense in shambles. I am even generous with a 7.5. (Winter break: 8)
Verdict: Bench more often.
7.5: Juan Bernat
His story is comparable to Rafinha’s. Strong while David Alaba was weak in the first half, he failed to take over his starting spot with a strong of so-so performances at left-back. I believe that a certain David escaped the bench only because of that. (Winter break: 8)
Verdict: Keep, but put on a leash.
7.5: Xabi Alonso
You cannot ask a retiring, accomplished veteran to improve. However, you can criticise Carlo Ancelotti for playing him too often, especially when the team needed faster legs. Alonso played as well as he could, but his ability to control a game against Bundesliga opponents could not be reproduced in crucial Cup matches. (Winter break: 8)
7: Thomas Müller
Lack of finish in the penalty area was easily compensated by 11 assists in the Bundesliga. Müller probably was the victim of frequent use on the right wing and at striker in the course of the season. He went through several frustrating moments, but regained sharpness whenever used as playmaker. He spent too much time on the bench in decisive games to earn a better rating, though. (Winter break: 6)
Verdict: Play as no.10 more often.
7: Douglas Costa
How do you alienate everyone in just four months? First, underperform when the coach makes you the go-to guy after Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben on the wings. Second, talk about leaving without delivering the goods. Third, look for the exit door because you will find it. (Winter break: 8.5)
Verdict: Cash in while he is still worth something.
Unrated (under 900 minutes played)
Kingsley Coman, Jérôme Boateng, Renato Sanches, Tom Starke, Sven Ulreich