Manuel Neuer will finally make his long-awaited return to action after the next international break. The German goalkeeper is targeting the game against Mainz to make his return for Bayern Munich. Neuer has been on the sidelines since December due to a leg injury.
The 37-year-old suffered a serious injury to his leg during a freak accident while on a ski trip in December. Neuer was initially expected to return by the start of pre-season training, but he had to undergo another surgery to remove metal implants. There have been a few setbacks in the recovery process, but it does look like there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel for the German goalkeeper.
Considering Neuer’s age and the nature of injury, Bayern are preparing for all type of scenarios. The Bavarian club will have the rest of the campaign to see if Neuer is back to his best after such a long layoff. In case he doesn’t. Die Roten have reportedly identified a potential signing in the goalkeeping department.
According to WAZ (need subscription), Bayern are keeping an eye on Wolfsburg’s Koen Casteels. The 31-year-old Belgian goalkeeper will be a free agent next summer. Wolfsburg have already sealed a deal for his replacement, so there is unlikely to be any U-turn on Casteels’ contract situation.
WAZ claims that Casteels is the plan B for Bayern in case Neuer doesn’t reach his old level after the long injury layoff. The Belgian has done a fine job at Wolfsburg. He is a very competent shot-stopper and has significant Bundesliga experience after stints at Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim.
The signing of Casteels makes sense if Bayern believes that Daniel Peretz can eventually become the long-term number one. The 23-year-old arrived in Munich from Maccabi Tel Aviv during the summer transfer window as a direct replacement for Yann Sommer. Casteels can be the stopgap number one before Peretz becomes the first choice option for Bayern.
Meanwhile, Bayern are reportedly planning to open contract talks with Sven Ulreich. The 35-year-old has done a good job in the goal during Neuer’s absence this season. He is ready to stay in Munich as a backup goalkeeper for one more season. The Bavarian club will also have discussions with Neuer in autumn over a contract.
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Neuer is determined to get back to his best for Bayern. He has been optimistic throughout his recovery process. With the focus on Euros 2024, Neuer needs to have a big season with Bayern. The club chiefs also need some sort of clarity in the goalkeeping department by the end of the season, so all eyes will be on Neuer when he returns after the international break.