Mane, Lewandowski, Muller, Nkunku: Who is the best player in the Bundesliga?

Sadio Mane was today officially announced as a Bayern Munich player.

It’s a huge coup from the Bavarian giants, bringing a top-tier Liverpool and Premier League star to the Bundesliga.

After all, he’s arguably been Liverpool’s best player since the African Cup of Nations and would even be considered as an outsider for the Ballon d’Or.

Albeit a massive outsider now Karim Benzema has led Real Madrid to domestic and European glory, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Senegalese star seize second or third spot.

Whether Robert Lewandowski leaves this summer or not, the powers that be at Bayern are expecting Mane to play a talismanic role in their team for years to come and there’ll be pressure on him to hit the ground running.

That’s just the weight of expectation that comes with being one of the Premier League’s era-defining stars.

But is that pressure justified? And how does Mane compare to the Bundesliga’s slickest operators?

That’s exactly what we’ve set out to establish below.

The 12 best Bundesliga players

12. Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)

It’s impossible to truly judge this but Davies seems to be one of, if not, the fastest footballer in the world.

He’s a regular at left-back for Bayern and has built a reputation for himself as one of the finest in his position at just 21-years-old.

Davies has also scored an impressive 10 goals in 30 appearances for the Canadian national team when being used higher up the pitch.

Alphonso Davies for Bayern
KYIV, UKRAINE – NOVEMBER 23: Alphonso Davies of FC Bayern München plays the ball during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Dinamo Kiev and Bayern München at Olimpiysky on November 23, 2021 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)

11. Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

The young German star who recently turned 19-years-old had been tearing up the Bundesliga until an ACL injury in early February.

Despite his misfortune, he still registered an impressive seven goals and 10 assists from attacking-midfield in the league and looked like he’d been playmaking at an elite level all his life.

He’s considered by many to be a future Ballon d’Or contender and we can see why, keep your eye on this lad.

10. Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)

The second of, well, quite a few Bayern players on this list, Gnabry seemed destinated for mediocrity in English football.

Whilst under contract at Arsenal under Wenger, he was loaned to West Brom and barely made it into the team there – making just three senior appearances.

However at Bayern, his rate of progression has been stratospheric and he’s now a key team member both at club level and in the national set up.

Gnabry playing for Bayern.
STUTTGART, GERMANY – DECEMBER 14: Serge Gnabry of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates after scoring their side’s fifth goal and their hat trick during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern München at Mercedes-Benz Arena on December 14, 2021 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

9. Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)

Bellingham is a similar case to Wirtz in that it’s simply mind-blowing how young they are.

Bellingham, 18, is the centre-piece of Dortmund’s midfield and featured no less than 43 times for the club last season.

He’s an exceptional all-rounder with talent like few we’ve ever seen and so it’s hardly a surprise that the likes of Liverpool are reportedly very keen on securing his services for the future.

8. Patrik Schick (Bayer Leverkusen)

The Czech striker burst into the spotlight by scoring a miraculous goal from his own half against Scotland at Euro 2020, and in all honesty, he’s never looked back since.

He went on to finish level with Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Golden Boot at that summer’s tournament, before setting about annihilating the Bundesliga at club level.

Last campaign he hit the back of the net on 24 occasions across 27 league games.

Patrik Schick Bayer Leverkusen
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 12: Patrik Schick of Leverkusen celebrates scoring his team’s second goal from the penalty spot during the Bundesliga match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Deutsche Bank Park on December 12, 2021 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

7. Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen)

The final player of the Leverkusen trident that occupies this list of the Bundesliga’s best, Diaby just about takes the title of the club’s top dog – for the moment at least…

The Frenchman might even rival Davies for pace and his explosive capabilities down the left flank no doubt gave many full-backs sleepless nights last season.

Sixteen goals and 11 assists in all competitions were a direct results of his physical prowess combined with a lethal instinct for goal.

Oh, and he’s no stranger to a silky trick or two, either…

6. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)

The greatest keeper of his era? You could certainly make a case for it, although Neuer has endured his fair share of rough patches in recent years.

He’s the original sweeper keeper extraordinaire and a fine shot-stopper to match.

Last campaign saw him return to nearly his formidable best with his average of 1.38 defensive actions outside the penalty area per game helping to prevent plenty of opposition attacks.

For context, in that category, Neuer ranks in the top 96th percentile of all keepers in Europe’s top five leagues.

Manuel Neuer celebrates
MUNICH, GERMANY – APRIL 23: Manuel Neuer of FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates after teammate Serge Gnabry of FC Bayern Muenchen (not pictured) scored their sides first goal during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Borussia Dortmund at Allianz Arena on April 23, 2022 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

5. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Kimmich is undeniably one of world’s best midfield orchestrators. Not only is he an artist in possession, but his tenacity and aggression off the ball makes him a nightmare for opponents.

Formerly a right-back, now operating as a defensive midfielder, Kimmich’s 12 league assists in 2021/2022 highlights his impressive creative abilities.

All in all, he might be the most vital cog in a well-oiled Bavarian machine.

4. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

“Ich bin ein Raumdeuter” is what Muller declared himself in 2011. A phrase which translates to “I am a space investigator” – and in truth, he couldn’t have put it more fittingly.

Muller has no real position, he effectively just floats between pockets of space for Bayern, unlocking defences with his superior level of game intelligence and it works magnificently.

In 2021/2022 alone, Muller racked up a staggering 21 Bundesliga assists taking his total tally in the competition to 187 – crazy, crazy numbers.

Thomas Muller in action for Bayern
Thomas Muller in action for Bayern

3. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

And whilst we’re on the subject of crazy numbers, let’s just outline Nkunku’s stats in all competitions last season a second:

Appearances: 50
Goals: 35
Assists: 19

All that and the Frenchman’s not even a striker…

Nkunku has been consistently linked with a host of top European clubs recently, most notably Tottenham, and if Antonio Conte could pull off that deal then Spurs could be a force to be reckoned with come August.

2. Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich)

So Mane misses out on top spot, although should circumstances change this window with Bayern’s other star man then he would inherit the crown of King.

Fans often elude to the concept of ‘Bundesliga tax’ when players are signed from that region, in ode to the supposed lower quality of the league generally, so it will be interesting to see how Mane adapts to his new home.

As mentioned earlier, he’s been a leading Premier League star for the best part of half a decade and whilst the transition of a player between clubs is never as simple as it seems, everyone will be keeping a keen eye on his progress.

  1. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

The ultimate goal machine for the past few seasons, Lewandowski is simply a phenomenon and it’s impossible to look past him, in truth.

Last campaign he maintained a positive delta in his goal-to-game ratio scoring 50 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions.

Thirty-five of those strikes came in the Bundesliga, taking his total tally for the competition to 312.

Those numbers are not to be sniffed at and whilst he’s undoubtedly top of this list, the real question ought to be – ‘where does Lewandowski rank in a list of the Bundesliga’s greatest players ever?’

Actually, maybe that’s one for next week…

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