After being touted as the latest "Next Big Thing" by American fans and media, perhaps the one person who doesn’t seem to believe the hype surrounding Julian Green is the man himself. He scored a goal he described as “very special to me” with his first World Cup touch in the U.S.’s round of 16 loss to Belgium, but he seems to be keeping it all in perspective.
“The fans are happy that I scored a goal, but I think that’s normal,” he said in a media conference call Monday. “If a 19-year-old guy scores a goal in the World Cup, it’s normal that [people] are talking.”
Green spoke from Bayern’s home base on Säbener Straße in Munich, where he just joined preseason training after a three-week break following the World Cup. While he took his short vacation, the attention on him in the U.S. did not wane ahead of his arrival with his club teammates for a two-match tour.
Bayern plays Chivas de Guadalajara on Friday in New York, where the club just opened its American offices, and then makes the cross-country trip to Portland, Ore., for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 6. Green's participation in both matches with the first team is a highly anticipated aspect of the tour.
“I have already played in the United States, but right now, I am coming with FC Bayern, and that’s my home club. That’s very special, too,” Green said. “I’m looking forward to playing and showing the people how good FC Bayern is.”
It’s no great mystery that Bayern, under manager Pep Guardiola, is stacked with superstars. Players in Green’s preferred positions on the wing or as a forward include Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Mario Götze, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller.
As such, the biggest question before the Bundesliga season is whether Green will stick with the first team, play again for Bayern II in Germany's fourth tier (where he scored 15 goals in 23 appearances last year) or go on loan. Guardiola said last week he expects the German-American to stay, although Green said Monday that the two haven’t spoken 1-on-1 yet, since it was just Green’s first day back.
“I think today, he’s going to stay, but we’re going to see in the preseason,” Guardiola said in his own conference call with American media. “We have time. I know him. I know he trains well, he’s a good guy, and my first idea is he’s going to stay for the rest of the season.”
Guardiola has taken a liking to Green since assuming the helm at Bayern before last season, which is something the wunderkind born in Tampa, Fla., said he appreciates.
“The relationship is very good,” he said. “I feel the trust with him, and it’s very important for a young player to feel the trust from the coach. I want to repay the trust from him.”
Green only appeared once for the Bayern first team in 2013-14, a two-minute run in a 3-1 win at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League when the result was already secure. Still, he hasn’t seriously entertained the notion of leaving Bayern, even temporarily. He is under contract with the club through 2017.
“I just want to play soccer again. I had three weeks off now, and I’m looking forward to playing again,” Green said. “The most important thing right now is FC Bayern. I want to play for Bayern, and I don’t think about some loan or something.”
He carried a slight knee injury into his short offseason, but Green said the knock won’t prevent him from taking part in training or the U.S. tour. Despite being one of 10 Bayern players in Brazil, he has no illusions about life being any easier for him at club level.
“[As a] 19-year-old, it’s very important to have these experiences. It’s good for me, but right now, everything starts new,” Green said. “I just want to show the coach and the team that I can help them, and if I get my chance, I’ll try my best. I’m waiting for my chance.”