After starting the season in Pep Guardiola's midfield, the 17-year-old is a star on the up. Alex Chaffer explains why...
The 60 second story
Gianluca Gaudino, son of Bundesliga winner and Manchester City loanee of 1995, Maurizio – also the man on the other end of Boris Johnson’s charity match rugby tackle in 2006 – has just made his Bayern Munich debut at 17; 13 days older than his father was when making his league debut for Waldhof Mannheim in 1984.
- Date of birth: November 11, 1996
- Place of birth: Hanau, Germany
- Position: Central midfield
- Height: 5ft 9in
- Club: Bayern Munich; 3 apps, 0 goals
His dad was sent off half an hour into his debut but the teenager’s first Bundesliga appearance against Wolfsburg, in which he ran further, faster and completed more passes than anyone else, “went like a dream” according to the youngster himself.
Gaudino took full advantage of Germany’s World Cup win, and the subsequent absence of six Bayern stars in the winning squad, to star in all of the club's first-team pre-season fixtures in America and Munich. One thing's for sure: he’s given manager Pep Guardiola food for thought on his immediate future.
Why you need to know him
Not many teenagers steal the headlines from the likes of Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben on their debut, let alone start the league opener. An injury crisis in the champions’ camp has given Gaudino’s impressive pre-season an immediate reward, with a start in the Supercup against Borussia Dortmund last week before his impressive league bow in Bayern's 2-1 win. While Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara remain injured, the young German is seizing his dream opportunity.
His father earned plaudits for his technical ability as a player, which at the time was a breath of fresh air to German football. Gianluca shows the same nimble footwork and eye for a pass as his father, which almost claimed him a debut assist last Friday.
“It’s not easy at 17 to play on debut at the Allianz against Luiz Gustavo, but he was outstanding,” beamed boss Guardiola on his new talent, before adding that the pass-happy prodigy “deserves to be here”. After his performances over the summer and into the start of the season, who are we to argue with the Spaniard?
Even from his few appearances to date, it's clear that Gaudino can already pick out a pass even when it’s not obvious to others. Comfortable with both feet and with a skip in his step, he uses his size to his advantage by bursting into space and keeping the ball moving quickly.
Bayern’s patient defence-to-attack transition suits him perfectly; in the Supercup defeat to Dortmund he often picked up the ball from defence and played simple, calm passes through the midfield. He’s already shown promise to compensate for the quality Bayern will miss with Toni Kroos’ sale to Real Madrid. Indeed, he's already been likened to the Bernabeu star, and Dortmund's Ilkay Gündogan.
Already dubbed ‘the little one’ by sporting director Matthias Sammer, Gaudino really is just that at his young age. At 5ft 9in there’s not much of him in terms of stature or strength, resulting in Gustavo and Josuha Guilavogui nudging him off the ball persistently on Friday. At his age, though, he has time to bulk up.
He may have problems keeping his current first-team place when Bayern's injured stars return, at which point he’ll likely to return to youth football or go on loan to further his development.
With half a dozen World Cup winners as team-mates, any youngster making their way through Bayern’s set-up is in the right place to get the best out of themselves. Müller offered high praise after the Bavarian's opening-day win, saying: “If he didn’t have the quality, he wouldn’t have played. Even if his performances haven’t surprised me, I take my hat off to him.”
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge also admitted his awe that “a 17-year-old lad at Bayern started the first league game. I was really impressed.”
Did you know?
Gaudino hasn’t yet signed a professional contract with Bayern, or learned to drive, and still lives with his parents in their Munich home. So when traveling to training – if his mother or father can’t take him – Bayern pay his train and bus fees to and from Säbener Strasse.
- Shooting 6
- Heading 6
- Passing 8
- Tackling 5
- Pace 8
- Dribbling 7
- Creativity 8
- Work rate 7
What happens next?
His rise to fame has come as a surprise to most – he hasn't represented Germany at any level yet – but his participation in first-team training and games should continue for now. The players he has replaced are still out for some time, with Schweinsteiger most likely to return next in five weeks. He’s still eligible for Bayern’s youth squads, though, and is likely to play the majority of the season behind the scenes.
Bayern have used loans to their advantage in the past, however, with Philipp Lahm (Stuttgart) and David Alaba (Hoffenheim) two of the most notable to have spells with other clubs. They could give Gaudino the same treatment, with some 2. Bundesliga clubs already making enquiries according to reports. They’ll have to tie him down to a new deal beforehand, however – his current contract expires next summer.