Despite the flare-up of hype surrounding Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, FC Bayern are still on the lookout for center forwards. Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram not only looks like an attractive option for the record champions because of his eight goals this season, but also because of his expiring contract. Could he be the savior?
The Marcus Thuram rumors greet almost every week. The offensive man from Borussia Mönchengladbach is again being associated with a number of potential new employers these days. The fact that his contract with the foals expires next summer makes the rumors all the more explosive. Bayern Munich is again in the Thuram raffle.
The German record champions have not yet closed the construction site in the middle tower after Robert Lewandowski left to the satisfaction of everyone involved. First Julian Nagelsmann tried with a fluid double lead, then with Sadio Mané and later with Serge Gnabry as the respective solo nine. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was allowed to try the position in the past games and did it brilliantly. But of course the 33-year-old is not a long-term solution.
Should Nagelsmann not return to a basic formation with a double lead, Bayern will have to look for an alternative for the nine. The 32-time champion has been linked with Thuram in the past.
A free transfer in the summer does not seem unrealistic – despite the possible interest from other clubs. In addition, this transfer would be a very low-risk investment. But would Thuram really fix the construction site in the central tower in one fell swoop?
Thuram shines in the Farke system
This question inevitably arises given Thuram’s player profile and his performances over the past few years. He came to Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2019 and initially played centrally up front under the then Foal coach Marco Rose, but over the course of the first two years mostly on the left winger position. Thuram only occasionally stormed alongside Breel Embolo or Alassane Pléa in a double lead.
That changed under Adi Hütter in the 2021/22 season, when Thuram oscillated between left winger and center forward more frequently throughout the year, although there were months when Thuram stayed on the wing. This season he has established himself in the center of attack, while Pléa is called up on the left flank. So the two French have gradually swapped positions over a long period of time.
But the 25-year-old is not a backward-looking target player who can defend and forward the ball for a long time while facing his own goal. His game is forward looking. Even as a winger, the Frenchman liked to move into the penalty area and try to use half-field crosses directly. It is therefore not surprising that as a Gladbach centre-forward he has integrated very well into Daniel Farke’s system.
Farke’s team makes the effective playing field long and creates free zones. Thuram is often sent dynamically into the last third or directly into the penalty area. With 7.5 forward passes received and 6.4 touches in the penalty area per 90 minutes, he sounds loud FBref.com in the top 15 percent of all forwards in the top 5 leagues in Europe. The tangible result is eight goals with 6.9 expected goals in the Bundesliga and thus number one in the top scorer list. At the same time, his productivity in the passing game has decreased compared to previous years, which is due to the new role.
Thuram: Qualitatively a player for Bayern
The Thuram name once stood for defensive world class, although father Lilian could not be pigeonholed either, as he was an equally good right-back and centre-back. It’s the same with son Marcus. He belongs to a large group of attackers who can play outside and inside alike. Names like Marcus Rashford, Donyell Malen, Heung-min Son or Bayern players Sadio Mané and Serge Gnabry come to mind.
But that’s exactly where the crux lies: despite his larger stature, Thuram has a similar understanding of offensive football as Mané and Gnabry. He grew up on the wing at Guingamp, often had the game ahead of him and still tries to continue to act forward in the central attack and less as a Lewandowski-like ball holder, because this style of play is not influenced by his technical skills or his perception is favored on the pitch.
However, Bayern play a tight formation under Nagelsmann and always need a good striker from the open play structure when attacking. Thuram could take on this role and probably fulfill it adequately, but he would not be the big breakthrough in terms of finding a center forward in this context.
In view of the wide-ranging Gladbach game, Thuram would not have the opportunity to refine his game as a ball-holding and rebounding center forward in the coming months. In the event of a move to Bayern, that could only happen on Säbener Strasse.
The rumors that are currently flaring up again regarding a possible change from Thuram to Bayern should be viewed a little critically. He’s got the class for the record champions, but he wouldn’t be the center forward needed for the often dominant team at the moment.