'I love this boy. He's got absolutely everything'
Uninformed onlookers had reason to worry on Saturday evening. Pep Guardiola gestured wildly, his eyes opened wide. He was standing on the pitch at the Signal Iduna Park, his forehead touching that of Joshua Kimmich, talking insistently to the 21-year-old. What looked like a dressing-down turned out to be special advice. “Emotions are involved directly after the match,” commented Kimmich on his coach's reaction, who wanted to clarify certain things in detail mere seconds after the final whistle. Kimmich listened attentively and nodded before Guardiola threw his arms around the youngster.
“I told him that he's perhaps one of the best centre-backs in the world,” the FCB head coach revealed later: “I love this boy.” Kimmich had just turned in another strong performance in the 0-0 draw away to Dortmund. For the sixth time he deputised in central defence, and for the fourth time Bayern kept a clean sheet. “Joshua Kimmich turned in a great display.” The Catalan was looking for superlatives as he talked about the player better known as a midfielder: “Huge, towering, madness compliments!”
Kimmich's outstanding stats in the meeting with Dortmund included 64 percent tackles won, 123 touches of the ball, and 94.7 percent pass completion. “We have a very good defender who’s strong in the build-up play,” said Guardiola, praising Kimmich's focus, aerial prowess and “personality on the ball. I like to work with players who are eager to learn. He's got the desire, the will, the passion. He's got absolutely everything.”
'It was fun'
Kimmich enjoyed the literal tête-à-tête with Guardiola. “It's the trademark of a good coach that he's never satisfied, and that he always tries to improve you. He always wants to get the maximum out of you. After the match he told me a few things I should have done better.” They discussed Kimmich's position after Xabi Alonso's substitution, by which he advanced to the midfield for the last few minutes. “I stood a shade too high up the field.”
Even if there are always things to improve, Kimmich filled the gap in the defence left by Jérôme Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Javi Martínez, who are all injured. “I think we're doing a decent job in the back,” commented the 21-year-old, who played in front of the 81,000 crowd in Dortmund for the first time after joining Bayern from the second division last summer. “It's a highlight to play here, especially if it's first against second,” the youngster summarised: “It was fun.”