Scouting Bayern's new recruit Sebastian Rudy

When Bayern announced the transfer of Niklas Süle, Bayern fans were understandably excited. However, the club also announced the transfer of another Hoffenheim player on the same day who did not receive as much attention. We assess new signing Sebastian Rudy with a quick breakdown of his playing style and how he fits in at Bayern Munich.

Raw numbers

As usual, we will start by looking at Rudy’s season with Hoffenheim and how he did overall. We will only be looking at his performance in the Bundesliga this past season.

Statistic 2016/17 Bundesliga
Appearances 32
Goals 2
Assists 7
 Total chances created  64
 Passing rate  80.6%
 Tackles  2.9
 Interceptions  3.1
Fouls  1.6
 Offsides  0.1
 Clearances  0.9
 Duels won  43%
 Dribbles  0.7
 Blocks  0.3
 Key passes  2
 Crosses 1.2
Long balls
Through balls
 2.4
0.1

 
It is certainly not bad, especially when you consider that Sebastian Rudy managed to put in his kind of performance while playing in multiple positions. Rudy proved his versatility as a defensive midfielder, a central midfielder, a right-back, and as an attacking midfielder.

What kind of player is Sebastian Rudy?

This one is kind of hard to tell, because Sebastian Rudy is essentially one of the best utility men in Germany right now. Due to this, he tends to play all over the pitch. But his primary role at Hoffenheim was as a defensive midfielder, almost a box-to-box midfielder. (Because apparently Bayern does not have enough of those.)
Rudy does have several strengths as a player though. While his passing overall is not anything special, he has a knack for key passes averaging two a game. He is also an excellent tackler, averaging 2.9 per game which is almost as many as Bayern Munich’s Chilean warrior, Arturo Vidal who averaged 3 tackles per game.
There are actually quite a few parallels to Rudy’s game and Vidal’s. Both are good at tackling, through balls, key passes, and like to take long shots. While Rudy is not notably better than Arturo in their similarities, he does possess a few qualities that make him valuable, such as his crossing ability which could come in useful if Ancelotti decides to use Rudy as a right-back.
What sets Rudy truly apart is his versatility. Very few players at Bayern can match Rudy’s ability to play multiple parts of the pitch. Only David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich seem to come close. This versatility is the most likely reason that Sebastian Rudy was signed to the team.

How can Rudy contribute?

When Sebastian Rudy first signed for Bayern, most assumed that he would end up like the other Sebastian who played for Munich in recent history, Sebastian Rode. While this certainly could end up being the case, it also might not and Bayern could be quite pleased that they signed Sebastian Rudy in the coming years. It all comes down to if Rudy is willing to accept his probable role at the club.
It is highly unlikely that Rudy will be a regular starter for Bayern, at least not in his preferred position of midfield. There’s simply too much quality there already there, and assuming Renato Sanches lives up to his potential at Bayern he will all but surely be considered a priority over a 27-year old Rudy.
That is one important aspect of Sebastian Rudy. He is already 27, and in the prime of his career most likely. While he plays well, that was all in the context of Hoffenheim. At Bayern expectations are different and playing your average Bundesliga side is not the same as playing against many of the teams that Bayern will face in the Champions League. Because Rudy is unlikely to drastically improve, his odds of pushing anyone in the current midfield line-up out are incredibly low. If Bayern sees the opportunity to sign another world-class midfielder to their roster, they are unlikely to pass in favor of giving Rudy playing time either.
This does not mean he cannot serve a purpose at Bayern. Die Roten plays lots of games, and even though the midfield is stacked players get injured and have to be rested. Rudy will get a crack against teams in the Bundesliga and can handle most of the teams comfortably.
His versatility is really what will set him apart though. Most of Bayern’s “utility men” are already locked down in particular spots. It also looks more and more likely that Joshua Kimmich will be Bayern’s next right-back, some think this is nothing more than a bargaining tactic in the market. While Kimmich is likely the heir to Philipp Lahm, the transition may not be immediate or smooth.
If it is not working out or if Ancelotti needs him to play as a holding midfielder, or even as a center-back, Rudy could get minutes there. He might even prove to be the better right-back, considering his experience in the role.
His ability to play anywhere in midfield or as a right-back and his good work ethic can serve him very well at Bayern. While it is unlikely that Rudy will displace someone like Arturo Vidal and he is not the future like Renato Sanches, he can serve a very valuable role as a dependable rotational player or the all-important utility man that every team should have.

A good transfer?

For Bayern, this is probably a pretty safe move. Sebastian Rudy may not set the world on fire, but he is far from a bad player and he can certainly do a job on the pitch. The only question mark is if he is willing to accept his most likely role on the team.