New Goalkeeper Coach Points At Future With Gregor Kobel

Never before has a goalkeeping coach change caused as many headlines as Bayern Munich releasing Toni Tapalovic and replacing him with Hoffenheim’s Michael Rechner. Bayern even paid a six-figure sum to obtain the services of the 42-year-old. It is an appointment made that will please head coach Julian Nagelsmann but could also indicate that Bayern is going to try to sign Borussia Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel.

Rechner, after all, worked with Kobel at Hoffenheim, turning him into a top-class goalkeeper who would first come to prominence at Stuttgart before joining Dortmund in 2021 for €15 million ($16 million). “Michael brought me from Zürich to Hoffenheim when I was just 16,” Kobel said in a recent interview with Sport Bild. “He kept a watchful eye on me while I was without my family in Germany.”

Kobel then went on to describe Rechner as one of the best goalkeeper coaches in Germany. “He is a major reason why I play at one of the biggest Bundesliga clubs today,” Kobel said in the interview.

Those statements will be further water on the transfer rumor mills. Nagelsmann, who was the head coach at Hoffenheim at the time, and Rechner are both Kobel fans. Both are now in decision-making positions at Germany’s record champions and could, in theory, pave the way for Kobel to head to Dortmund.

It is a theory that is not lost on the currently injured Manuel Neuer. Out with a leg fracture that he had suffered from a skiing accident, the 36-year-old recently spoke out in an interview that came out simultaneously in The Athletic and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

In that interview, which was obviously not authorized by the Bayern bosses, Neuer voiced his displeasure about the club releasing Tapalovic.“I felt like my heart was being ripped out,” Neuer said when asked how he felt when he found out that Bayern had sacked his friend and goalkeeping coach Tapalovic. “It was the most brutal thing I’ve experienced in my career. And I’ve experienced a lot.”

With Bayern sacking Tapalovic and installing Rechner, the club is paving the way for a new hierarchy. Already there are murmurs that Joshua Kimmich could replace Neuer as the club’s captain, further undermining Neuer’s status.

But it is also an unbending fact that Neuer is 36 and will be 37 when he returns from his injury. Bayern has to plan for the future, one that will include a new goalkeeper, and it makes sense that Kobel is a potential target, even if the Dortmund star has recently downplayed his interest in joining the Rekordmeister. “Me joins Bayern?” Kobel said in a quote published by DW. “I am already playing at a club that can win titles.”

One Dortmund fan, of course, was quick to point out that Robert Lewandowski said something similar one day and then joined Bayern anyhow. But Rechner’s appointment, even though it does open the door for a potential attempt to sign Kobel, is not just geared toward signing yet another Dortmund star.

In fact, it is also a signal for currently out on loan Alexander Nübel. Bayern tried to convince Nübel to return to Munich this winter, but the 26-year-old expressed concerns about working with Neuer’s close friend Tapalovic. Monaco has tried to sign Nübel permanently, but all attempts have fallen on silent ears at the Säbener Straße.

There will be talks in the summer, and with a new coach in place, Nübel will be given a fair chance, as will Neuer when he does return. But Rechner and Nagelsmann will also keep an eye on Kobel, who was once again excellent midweek in the DFB Pokal against Bochum and, at the moment, might be the best keeper in Germany.

Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth

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