Just under a week ago, Julian Green made his competitive debut for Bayern Munich, coming off the bench for the final three minutes of the Bavarians' 3-1 win away to CSKA Moscow.
The 18-year-old has flown under the radar for most of the 2013-14 season thus far; before last Wednesday, he hadn't once been called up to Pep Guardiola's matchday squad. But throughout Bayern reserves' Regionalliga campaign thus far, Green has distinguished himself in an emphatic way.
To date, Green has scored 15 goals and given six assists in 18 appearances for the reserves. A two-footed player of great versatility, he's impressed in all areas of attacking midfield and as a main striker. Used as a center-forward, he netted a hat-trick against Schweinfurt in September. Earlier this month, as a left-winger, he gave three assists in a match against Wuerzburger Kickers.
The youngster was rewarded for his fine performances with a first professional contract, which will keep him at Bayern until 2017. And just weeks later, Green, who was often used by Guardiola in the preseason, was given his chance with the senior team in a competitive outing. Many may have been surprised by Green's use, but according to Manuel Neuer, the player has an exceptional work ethic, one that has been rewarded by the trainer. "He gives it his all in every training session," the goalkeeper said after the CSKA match (h/t ESPN FC).
Green has taken an improbable path to earning his place in the Bayern team. Born in Tampa to a German mother and American father, the forward moved to Munich and joined Bayern during his youth. According to his father, Julian professes to be an American but has yet to decide whether to represent the country of his birth or the one where he currently lives at senior level.
Green's current situation with the German U19 squad reveals his prospects for Germany and Bayern in the future. This season he's participated in five friendlies for the DFB team, starting only one, in August. Julian Brandt, a year his junior, has been a lock on the left wing, while Max Meyer, who has already established himself as a key figure in the Schalke lineup, has regularly started behind Davie Selke. Green has typically been a substitute for Selke or Serge Gnabry, the latter of whom has made a name for himself in the Arsenal first team this season.
Bayern are a big fish in the small pond of the Regionalliga of their namesake, the biggest teams wherein are the reserve teams of Nuernberg, Augsburg and 2. Bundesliga sides 1860 Munich and Greuther Fuerth. The league's best players, aside from those at Bayern II, are plucked up by first teams to help in the relegation or promotion fight. And as such, Green has not until recently had the platform to earn the admiration of Klinsmann or Germany U19 coach Marcus Sorg. This all could change if he takes his chances at the best team in the world.
Armed with a soft touch, the pace and agility of a winger and the lethal scoring instinct of a striker, Green has an expansive array of skills and can be used in a variety of different roles—an asset that will prove invaluable as he looks to make his way into a packed Bayern squad that will often have few openings available.
Green has thus far passed all his tests, and his call to the senior Bayern team is a sign that he's ready to take the next step in his career.
His opportunity has to an extent been the result of many injuries in the squad. Bayern's first-team players will eventually be fit enough to return to action, and thus Green will have to take his opportunity to defend his position and prove that he, above many of the club's other burgeoning talents, has the best array of skills.
Still just 18 years of age, Green will have to wait for opportunities to come and may need a spell on loan to be able to play regularly at a professional level. But he has ostensibly abundant talent and a great work ethic—just the attributes a player needs to make his mark at the highest level. Provided he takes his chances and makes wise career choices, he has every chance of becoming a star.