It was a cold evening on March 1st that saw me and a mate attend the Bayern U23 home match against SV Schalding-Heining in the Regionalliga Bayern. Both of us hadn’t spotted any players we could imagine playing in Bayern’s first team during the first 15 or 20 minutes of the match. However, after we had recorded a segment for our podcast stating just that we were proven wrong.
From the 30th minute onwards a Dutch 17-year-old by the name Joshua Zirkzee started shining. Suddenly Zirkzee’s movement became more entwined with the rest of the team. Time and time again the striker managed to be part of the attacking onslaught that Bayern’s U23 were producing against a mid-table Regionlliga side.
Zirkzee’s first goal came in the 39th minute. Two more goals followed in the 54th and the 57th minute. The Dutch striker was taken off shortly after completing a hat trick within an impressive 18 minutes.
Remember the name! https://t.co/8kqWHBgRhM
— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) September 19, 2019
Great exploits at youth level
The reason for the Dutch youngster’s starting problems in that match might have been the fact that he had only played 51 minutes of football in Bayern’s U23 side at that point. Last season Zirkzee was mostly used by Bayern’s U19 Bundesliga side. The 18-year-old’s move to Bayern’s Regionalliga side had, in fact, been so recent that Kicker hadn’t established a player profile for him on their site (leaving us scratching our heads as to who on earth that tall guy with an afro tucking away all those goals was).
The following day we found out as we attended Bayern’s U19 Bundesliga away match against 1. FC Nürnberg. The Bavarian’s side had taken the lead 1-0, but a lucky goal by Der Glubb had equaled the score in a hard fought match. It seemed liked the match was going to peter out in a draw.
On came Zirkzee, who had been on the pitch at the Grünewalder Stadion only hours earlier the previous night. Suddenly Bayern’s attack became more potent and in the end the youngster tucked away his fourth goal within competitive football in less than 24 hours.
One can safely assume that we got to witness the best side of Joshua Zirkzee in the space of a few hours. Zirkzee ended his Bundesliga U19 season on 12 goals in 14 matches. Furthermore, he tucked away one more goal in his other apperances for Bayern’s second string team, bringing his goal total to 4 goals in 10 Regionalliga Bayern matches that season.
Tall and quick
After Zirkzee’s exploits in the match against SV Schalding-Heining Bayern’s then reserve coach Helmut Seitz was full of praise. He told Kicker:
“Joshua is the type of player many are looking for, a classical shock forward. He recognises situations well and acts quickly.”
At lower league level Zirkzee has shown that he posses great technique, a good understanding of the game and that he can both finish and intiate attacking moves. Add to that his height of a whopping 193 centimeters and his great heading abilities, and one does see why he is held in the highest of regards by the officals at the Säbener Strasse.
Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was overjoyed when he could reveal that the youngster had extended his contract until 2023. He told Bayern’s own website:
“He already puts in constantly good performances for the amateurs. We’ll try to develop him as best we can, in order to hopefully get him ready for the senior side.”
Adapting to the 3. Liga
Whilst Bayern’s officals might be happy with the youngster’s development, a glance at the current stats isn’t as impressive as one might think. Only one assist from his eight apperances in the third tier isn’t exactly amounting to a lot of barnstorming performances.
The lack of goals might simply be down to the fact that Zirkzee needs a little while longer to adapt to the level in third tier after only playing fourth tier and U19 Bundesliga football so far.
The Dutchman himself is clear that he aims higher than third tier football. He told Bayern’s website:
“At some point I want to play for Bayern’s senior side, that is my big goal.”
Bayern themselves seem to be certain that they do have a gem on their hands. Head coach Niko Kovac showed his appreciation for the Dutchman by making him one of seven reserve team players that he named for the club’s Champions League squad.
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