Opinion

Two Bundesliga representatives were named in the Squad of the Season for players who had featured in the Champions League.

While Bayern Munich were knocked out by the eventual champions in the semi-finals, both Joshua Kimmich and James Rodriguez have been recognised for their efforts. Appearing in the UEFA squad of the season alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah is a testament to how well these two have been.

James had already showcased his considerable talent on the world stage after his exploits for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, including that spectacular volley against Uruguay. Kimmich, on the other hand, has received many plaudits this season as his game has developed to another level.

The 23-year-old has assisted 10 goals in the Bundesliga this season from right-back, as well as contributing four goals and three assists during Bayern’s Champions League run. For a young talent, Kimmich has been extremely composed and authoritative, playing consistently well all season.

Completing 558 out of his 626 passes during the Champions League is a measure of how assured he has been. Ahead of the World Cup, Kimmich will be one of the young stars confident of transforming his domestic form onto the biggest stage of all.

Comparisons have already been made with Philipp Lahm, who made over a century of Champions League appearances and won all there was to win including the World Cup, Champions League and eight Bundesliga titles. To be held in the same esteem as a legend of German football illustrates that Kimmich is destined for great things.

Scoring twice against Real Madrid proved he is the complete full-back, capable of defending resiliently and also driving forward as an attacking threat. His finish into the far corner past Keylor Navas – who also appeared in UEFA’s Squad of the Season – was a sign of real confidence and class. Madrid turned the game around at the Allianz Arena, but Kimmich had shown he can compete amongst the very best in the world.

Joachim Low, Germany’s World Cup-winning manager, has bundles of faith in his full-back, describing him as: “one of the greatest talents I’ve seen in the past decade.”

Signed for 7.5 million euros from Stuttgart in 2015, Kimmich has extended his contract to remain with the German champions until 2023, another sign of how valuable and highly regarded he is.

Having had to bide his time at first – even linked with a move away from Bayern – Kimmich is now one of the first names on the team sheet, and his inclusion in the UEFA squad shows he could probably walk into most teams in the world right now.