Manuel Neuer has had a few absolutely torrid months. It all started when he saw Germany knocked out of the group stages of the World Cup for the second consecutive edition.
As he was their captain for the tournament, a lot of criticism was laid on the goalkeeper for failing to lead from the front.
Things then went from bad to worse after Neuer saw his season ended by a freak injury sustained in a ski accident. He fractured his lower right leg and had to undergo surgery, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign.
This also forced Bayern Munich to act swiftly, knowing that they won’t have their captain available for the second half of the season.
They ended up working to sign Yan Sommer from Borussia Monchengladbach, a signing most fans deemed as a stop-gap before Neuer returns.
But it appears that is not entirely the case at all. For the first time in his Bayern career, the German goalkeeper might be under threat of losing his spot for good.
As per Bild, the club continues to insist that Neuer is their first-choice goalkeeper, but Sommer’s signing is a sign that they are planning for a future without him and he is no longer untouchable.
The reason behind this is that the 36-year-old’s relationship with manager Julian Nagelsmann has deteriorated this season. Neuer has been left fuming with the gaffer ever since the departure of goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic.
He believes that Nagelsmann played a key role in the release of the coach, who had worked at Bayern for 12 years.
Who is Toni Tapalovic
Tapalovic joined Bayern in 2011, soon after retiring as a professional. The German mostly played for reserve teams in his career, featuring the likes of Schalke II and Mainz II.
He arrived on board at the same time as Neuer, with the two quickly develop a close bond. Tapalovic’s impressive knowledge and coaching of Neuer helped the goalkeeper soar and remain the world’s best goalkeeper for many years.
Tapalovic was also Neuer’s best friend at Bayern and the one that helped him keep operating at such a high level for the last decade. They got so close that Neuer even made him his best man at his wedding.
The German goalkeeper has resented the fact that his best buddy was let go, mostly because Tapalovic saw differences in the way of working with the coaches in Nagelsmann’s backroom staff.
Moreover, the 42-year-old coach also started to leak text chat that happened among the coaching staff to Neuer and some of the other Bayern players – which frustrated Nagelsmann.
The club and Tapalovic shared their differences for quite some years now, with the Bavarians now deciding to take stringent action on his illegal acts.
For now, it appears that the decision-makers at the club are taking the boss’ side for this and they had no issues in letting Tapalovic leave after 12 years at the club.
What’s next for Neuer
At the age of 36, Neuer has moved into the final years of his iconic career. He only has a few more years remaining in his tank and there is no idea how he’ll return from such a bad injury at this age.
His deal with Bayern runs out next year, which is why he could pursue a move elsewhere if needed in the summer transfer window.
But if he wants to end his career with the Bavarians, then Neuer will have to fix his relationship with Nagelsmann and stop holding grudges for firing his good friend.
He’ll also have to prove that he’s still good enough without Tapalovic guiding him and can still bring success for Bayern going forward.
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