Remember the name: Alexander Nuebel
Born: 30 Sept. 1996
Club career: Schalke 04 (2016-19), Bayern Munich (2019-)
Some say Alex Nuebel is a clone of Manuel Neuer. Both men were born in north-western Germany. Both played in goal for Schalke and then signed for Bayern Munich. Both stand 6ft 4in tall. Both have surnames beginning with N (okay, reaching a bit now). And they look pretty similar:
It’s asking a lot for Nuebel to follow in the footsteps of the man who many consider to be the greatest keeper in history, and he almost certainly won’t hit those heights, but he is good enough to have a shot at becoming Germany’s first-choice keeper one day – although he may have to give it five or six years until Neuer has disappeared and Marc-Andre ter Stegen is in his mid-thirties.
Neubel is strong, athletic and really good with the ball at his feet. Sound familiar? There’s no doubt Neuer is the template, as he is for many young keepers. But not many have the physical tools nor the outfield skills to copy Neuer convincingly. Neubel does, potentially.
There are some red flags. He was terrific in 2018/19 but had an up-and-down 2019/20 campaign at Schalke, making several errors – but then the club was struggling badly. He is raw, as this red card for an outrageously misjudged tackle against Eintracht Frankfurt last December shows:
… he got a four-match ban for that, and you’d say he got off lightly.
What now? Patience. He’s signed for one of Europe’s giants but has no shot at becoming a first-team regular, indeed he has no realistic chance of usurping Neuer for years. Such is the conundrum for every good young goalkeeper. Stick or twist. He’ll want for playing time, unless Bayern loan him out, but then he gets to train with Neuer week in, week out. If that doesn’t make him, nothing will.