The Bundesliga’s worst kept secret is out.
Bayern Munich have officially confirmed the signing of Benjamin Pavard, with the Frenchman set to complete the move from Stuttgart this coming summer.
The transfer signals a poential new dawn for the Bavarian giants, with Niko Kovac set to complete an overhaul in defence that should excite fans.
It looks increasingly likely the German champions will name a first-choice centre-back partnership of Pavard and Niklas Sule next season.
Those who don’t follow German football know Pavard better as a right-back.
Didier Deschamps successfully utilised the 22-year-old as a full-back during France’s triumphant World Cup campaign — insert obligatory mention of that stunner against Argentina here.
However, Pavard is a centre-back by trade and has played at the heart of defence for Stuttgart in all his Bundesliga fixtures this season.
Sule has established himself as Bayern’s premier centre-back this season.
The towering ex-Hoffenheim defender has also muscled in on Germany’s preferred starting line-up.
With Pavard (22) and Sule (23) both in their early 20s, Bayern should be eyeing up a decade of consistency in the position for which the attribute is most important.
Better yet, Lucas Hernandez has been strongly linked with a move to Munich.
The 22-year-old is equally capable of playing as a left-back or left-sided centre-back and, like Pavard, significantly contributed to France’s World Cup glory.
Kovac favoured three at the back during his days as Frankfurt manager, and so it’s possible he wishes to implement a similar tactic in 2019/20.
This would re-invent Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba as wing-backs, which shouldn’t be an issue given the pair’s attacking and creative prowess.
There’s potential for a superbly dynamic and perfectly balanced backline…
We’re not sure whether defences can be accurately described as ‘exciting’ but this is as close as you’ll get.
Pavard and Hernandez both have considerable experience playing as full-backs, which would serve them well if they were to get dragged out into wide positions one-on-one with wingers.
Kimmich is pretty much already the best assist-provider in the Bundesliga, with a bit more license he could post staggering numbers.
On paper, it’s a plan that should worry Bayern’s rivals, both domestically and in Europe.
While the future looks bright for Bayern fans, it’s worth noting the passing of a distinguished pairing.
Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng have only been club team-mates for two-and-a-half seasons but their partnership at international level dates back to 2010.
The duo’s best moment came in 2014 when Germany lifted the World Cup in Brazil.
Boateng played some of the games at right-back when Philipp Lahm occupied the defensive midfield role, but he resumed centre-back duties alongside Hummels for the 7-1 thrashing of Brazil and the final.
As international team-mates, and the two standout centre-backs in the Bundesliga, their relationship started long before Hummels joined Bayern in 2016.
As Borussia Dortmund’s rock, Hummels mirrored Boateng at Dortmund’s rivals Bayern, further binding the two — much like Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique’s complex fellowship.
Pavard’s transfers does not so much end a great partnership for Bayern, but for the Bundesliga as a whole.
Hummels and Boateng could confidently claims to be the two best centre-backs in Germany for a stretch of at least five years.
Boateng and Hummels are both 30 years old, prime age for their position.
However, both have suffered from Germany’s World Cup humiliation and Bayern’s (relative) stagnation.
Question marks remain over the pair’s future, though many fans would like at least one to stay on at Bayern as an experienced back-up.
One thing’s for sure, Jadon Sancho and co’s title bid has stirred Bayern — the next 18 months promises to be captivating.