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Benjamin Pavard is suddenly irreplaceable



Benjamin Pavard is suddenly irreplaceable

Benjamin Pavard put in another strong performance in FC Bayern’s 5-3 win over FC Augsburg and scored twice. Thanks to Julian Nagelsmann’s system changeover, Pavard’s future prospects have changed fundamentally.

Benjamin Pavard sends signals – on purpose

Benjamin Pavard did not kiss the Bayern coat of arms on his jersey. Coat of arms kissing has also become more and more out of fashion lately. Because the pictures where you caressed the emblem of the ex-club were always a bit uncomfortable – before you went somewhere else.

So tapping is the new kissing. And Pavard patted the coat of arms above his heart three times after he celebrated the first goal of his brace in the 5-3 win over FC Augsburg. To think that Pavard didn’t want to send a subtle message to fans and bosses with this gesture would be naïve. Professionals like Pavard know all too well that several high-resolution cameras are aimed at them, especially when celebrating a goal. And that later every gesture is interpreted.

Pavard and FC Bayern seemed to have drifted apart recently. Coach Julian Nagelsmann let him play his favorite position as central defender too seldom for Pavard’s taste. The 26-year-old, whose contract expires in the summer of 2024, publicly flirted with a move abroad shortly before the World Cup due to a perceived lack of appreciation.

Recently, however, Pavard sent several signals of rapprochement. At the home game against Paris Saint-Germain last Wednesday, in which Pavard was suspended, he frenetically cheered on his colleagues in the stands. After the 2-0 win over PSG, Pavard then ran down onto the pitch and celebrated in everyday clothes with the rest of the team in front of the fans in the south stand. And now the coat of arms knocker against Augsburg.

Benjamin Pavard: First brace for Bayern

Pavard’s sporting performance in the game against FCA, meanwhile, was not at all subtle or in need of interpretation. Just strong. At first glance, he shone in an unusual role: namely as a goalscorer. When he scored to make it 2-1 (19 th ), Pavard showed himself instinctively like a real centre-forward when he refined Sadio Mané’s overhead kick assist with a seamless shot from the turn.

He scored the first brace of his professional career in the 3-1 (35th minute) when he volleyed the ball into the Augsburg net with a scissor kick. Pavard’s attacking skills were also recognized by his attacking colleagues: “We were already talking at half-time about whether he could score a hat-trick,” said Jamal Musiala after the game sky: “Benji in front of goal is fine.”

On the defensive, Pavard was unlucky with Augsburg’s early opening goal (3rd minute), when he served an accidental header to Mergim Berisha, who then made João Cancelo look old and scored. Otherwise, Pavard played a solid game at the back and still had plenty of energy left to go for goals up front. 100 percent tackle rate, 107 ball contacts, 92 percent pass rate – the pure numbers of his performance against Augsburg were impressive.

Benjamin Pavard as the ideal cast in Bavaria’s three-man chain

Pavard’s increased value for Bayern since the beginning of the 2023 calendar year has one main reason: Julian Nagelsmann preferred to rely on a three-man chain after the World Cup. With Dayot Upamecano in the middle, Mathijs de Ligt on the left and Pavard on the right. But not as a full-back, as Pavard actually never saw himself. This change in defense changed Pavard’s standing massively – also with a view to his future.

In the times of the back four, Pavard was only number three central defender behind Upamecano and de Ligt. Then there was Cancelo on loan from Manchester City and it seemed that Pavard would have to join the bench as his substitute at right-back. In this constellation, Pavard seemed dispensable. Bayern could only collect a decent transfer fee for him this summer and should have seriously considered selling a substitute with a considerable market value.

With the change to the back three, however, the tide has turned significantly. Pavard currently looks like the ideal cast on the right in the chain of three. “He feels safe there and knows that he can develop well. He plays more often in his more beloved position – a bit further inside and more central. And he does it very, very well,” praised coach Nagelsmann after the game.

Benjamin Pavard: praise from Hasan Salihamidzic and Julian Nagelsmann

If Pavard fails, Bayern only have Josip Stanisic for this position. The Croatian international undoubtedly showed a very strong performance here against PSG – in Munich’s luxury squad, only one alternative for Pavard seems almost thin. Nagelsmann made it clear again after the Augsburg game that he doesn’t see Cancelo as an option in the back three.

The coach makes no secret of the fact that he would support an extension of Pavard’s contract: “I think Hasan sees it for himself that Benji performs well and always wants to win,” he said when asked if he wanted a new one for sports director Salihamidzic contract for Pavard would recommend. Salihamidzic himself was still cautious about the future, but was also full of praise for Pavard: “Big compliments to Benji. He was one of the outstanding players in the last four to six weeks – he comes to training every day with a smile . As for everything else, we’ll see.”

It is significant that the squad planner has addressed Pavard’s positive charisma in recent weeks. In the past year, the Frenchman often seemed withdrawn, currently he seems to be enjoying life in Munich. Now Pavard’s statements no longer sound like a farewell. “I never said I wanted to go,” he said last week sports1: “I know very well that I’m in a very big club where everything is excellently positioned. I feel very comfortable here, I like the club and the fans and I hope that we can still achieve great things this season .”

All in all, it all sounds more like an extension than a departure. Suddenly Pavard is in a very good negotiating position and could now even hope for an offer for improved covers. Because currently it seems as if Nagelsmann sees the chain of three as a model for the future. And Pavard is a fixture in that.

Should Bayern lose him, you would have to work on the transfer market for this position. And a replacement solution would be expensive. Definitely more expensive than a new, albeit well-paid contract for Pavard. The luck has turned. And Benjamin Pavard suddenly has very good cards.