How does FC Bayern react?: Manuel Neuer puts two teams in a dilemma

Manuel Neuer is so badly injured on a ski tour that he is out for the rest of the season.

How does FC Bayern react?: Manuel Neuer puts two teams in a dilemma

Manuel Neuer is so badly injured on a ski tour that he is out for the rest of the season. How things will continue for the 36-year-old is unclear. The goalkeeper himself still has great ambitions - this makes planning more difficult for those responsible for two teams.

SOS was radioed from the Mangfall mountains last Friday - and this message not only put the mountain rescue service at Schliersee on alert. When the emergency signal from 1400 meters from the legendary southern slope of the Roßkopf reached Säbener Strasse and finally national coach Hansi Flick - his whereabouts were unknown - one of the most exciting questions in German football was formulated: What's next for Manuel Neuer? The goalkeeper of FC Bayern and the national team broke his lower leg while ski touring in the mountains above the Spitzingsee and will be out for the rest of the season.

If Manuel Neuer has his way, everything will be as usual after his successful recovery. He returns to the gate. More precisely: He returns to both goals. With the national team, he is pursuing the big plan of shaking off the painful humiliations of the past three major tournaments (twice in the preliminary round and once in the knockout round) at the home European Championship in 2024. The contract with FC Bayern runs until that summer and Neuer had already let it be known that it would not have to be the last working paper in Munich. The goalkeeper is insatiable, always wants to play, doesn't want to share the time between the posts.

That's a problem. For the national team, but even more so for FC Bayern. He has big plans this season - and big things in front of his chest. In the round of 16 of the Champions League, there is a giant summit with Paris St. Germain. In this luxury Qatari ensemble, the massive offensive power and maybe even the upcoming world champion cavort. With Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi, two star strikers are still in the distribution for the blood-smeared crown in Qatar. Which Munich player should stop this force, which also includes Neymar? The most obvious answer: Sven Ulreich, the reliable number two. But he is still stuck in the semi-finals in May 2018, when he fatally let a back pass from Corentin Tolisso slip through. Real Madrid's Karim Benzema accepted the gift - the royals won the pot a little later.

So go into the second half of the season with Ulreich? Get a new goalkeeper? And if so, who? Alexander Nübel about? The 26-year-old came from FC Schalke 04 in the summer of 2020 - with plenty of background noise and great ambitions. After a year as Neuer's apprentice, with assignments, he wanted to mature into a real challenger and oust the eternal Manu. But the apprenticeship year turned into an atmospheric debacle. Neuer always played because he wanted to and Flick (then Bayern coach) saw no need to rest his number one. And so the frustrated Nübel moved on to AS Monaco for two years on loan. After a rather mixed first season, he has now stabilized and delivers at the top level.

So bring Nübel back? Apparently a very realistic option. But also one that could cause problems. First, Monaco would have to be compensated financially, that would probably be the least of the evils. If that succeeds (no doubt), it will be much more exciting: Because Nübel had emphasized several times not to come back as an "emergency nail". But what would happen to the new season if Neuer had recovered and insisted on his status? According to reports from various media, the 36-year-old rules out the end of his career. In addition, Nübel's relationship with the Munich goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, a new confidant, is considered to be strained.

There is still the possibility of an external solution. There is speculation about Gladbach's top keeper Yann Sommer, Croatia's World Cup hero Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb) or veteran keylor Navas, currently number two at Paris St. Germain. An obligation of some kind seems likely. Because only going into the second half of the season with Ulreich and inexperienced youngsters would be a risky path given all the ambitions.

That leaves the national team. With that, Neuer had just failed with a crash at the World Cup in Qatar. And not a few experts then opened a discussion about the time of the eternal number one had expired - he was at least held partly responsible for several goals conceded. For example, Japan's winning goal by Bochum's Takuma Asano or the Costa Ricans' opening goal (4:2). His share of those goals is not (yet) enough to spark a serious debate about his status, but the voices won't be silenced either. So what's next for the DFB team? With Marc-André ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp, Flick has two keepers at the highest level - and therefore fewer worries than FC Bayern. With Oliver Baumann and Bernd Leno there are also two strong alternatives.

The DFB team will have to play four games in the first half of 2023 without Neuer. And that in the middle of this gigantic sporting crisis that requires the next rebuilding - a stable axis must be found, a hierarchy. That includes the goalkeeper. And should Ter Stegen or Trapp show outstanding performances, Flick would be in a dilemma. How is he supposed to justify the return of a 36-year-old whose last impression was no longer the most stable? The events in the Mangfall Mountains last Friday could have a more lasting impact on German football than the Schliersee mountain rescue team had expected. At first she didn't recognize the goalkeeper under his helmet and ski goggles.