Julian Green's progression over the next four years is going to be of great interest to U.S. national team fans after his glimpse of greatness in Brazil, and it appears the first step on the path to Russia 2018 will take place at Bayern Munich, not elsewhere as has been speculated.
Green will likely stay with Bayern Munich for the 2014-15 season rather than go out on loan, Bayern manager Pep Guardiola said in a media conference call Tuesday. That decision is not ironclad yet, though, and it will depend on how the rest of Bayern’s activity in the transfer window materializes.
“I think he’s going to stay, but we have to see how is the market — if one player is back or if one player comes in — but it depends on one player, no more,” Guardiola said. “I think today, he’s going to stay, but we’re going to see in the preseason. 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.”
Green, the USA's German-American wunderkind who scored with his first touch of the 2014 World Cup in the team’s round of 16 loss to Belgium, was a major topic of conversation in Guardiola’s call with North American media to preview the MLS All-Star Game.
"He was with us in the preseason [last year], and we were really impressed with his talent, his movement to goal," Guardiola said. "He played a little bit in the World Cup, but when he played, he showed his level, scoring a beautiful, beautiful goal. … It’s never easy to be in the big clubs in the first squad, but he deserves to try to keep going here and play with us.”
Guardiola said Green reported for preseason training with a slight knee injury, meaning he will be rested for the next couple days. However, the Tampa-born winger/forward will still travel to the U.S. for Bayern’s preseason matches against Chivas de Guadalajara in the New York area on July 31 and the MLS All-Stars in Portland on Aug. 6, where he'll have the chance to go up against eight of his World Cup teammates.
Another player Guardiola singled out for praise was Mexico captain Rafael Márquez, who played for Guardiola at FC Barcelona from 2008-2010. The manager said he was “more than happy” to see Márquez play well at the World Cup.
“There isn’t anybody in the world — maybe one or two players more — who has the same ability to make his teammates better, to make the midfielders better through his passing, through his distribution of the ball in the first phase [of the build-up],” Guardiola said. “I’m very, very happy for him because he had a fantastic World Cup.”
Turning his attention to Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team, Guardiola said both have improved greatly, but they still have a long way to go before being on the same level as world-class programs in Europe.
“The league is better than before. That is a fact. Is the league on the level of most of the European leagues just for tradition? No. They have to improve,” he said. “They have to create good players, good talents. The people enjoy to see good talents, and in the end, good talents make football better. That is the most important thing: to take the best coaches as possible to work in the young academies, with the young players, and try to be focused, be patient, be patient, be patient. Then in the next few years, they will be going stronger. When they are stronger, you will be stronger in the national team.”
At the same time, Guardiola quashed the notion of copying any particular playing style or development philosophy from elsewhere. He said just because England, Italy and Spain failed to progress beyond the group stage at the World Cup, for example, doesn’t mean they need to overhaul their entire system.
“Any system is good, any system is wrong. I’m not convinced that because England is out or Italy is out, that the system is not good. I don’t believe in that,” Guardiola said. “Every federation, every culture, has to believe what they believe, what they have and make the best facilities and the best ideas for the staff and the players to develop their talents. … The most important thing, Germany won because in the last period, they tried to discover and maintain a philosophy and be patient with the coach and be patient with the players, and that’s why he’s successful. … Spain lost and maintained their coach, and they keep going with the same philosophy and the same style of play. They will be back. So [the key is] just to believe in something and put 100 percent in that.”