Julian Green landed a spot on the U.S. men's team roster at the World Cup almost entirely based on potential. Despite the misgivings about the possibility of a quid pro quo from Jurgen Klinsmann (World Cup roster spot for Green's commitment to play internationally for the United States), the Bayern Munich youngster proved his worth with a smart run and good finish against Belgium in the round of 16.
The spotlight already trained on Green post-World Cup only gets brighter with his display in Brazil. As before his arrival in U.S. colors, the work of turning the Tampa-born pro into a top-level player falls to his club, and more specifically, to manager Pep Guardiola.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday ahead of Bayern's preseason U.S. tour, Guardiola pointed to Green's vast potential and indicated that the forward will likely remain with Bayern this season, rather than head out on loan.
There are plenty of reasons why this news is surprising, but it may be worth looking at both the pros and cons for Green, for Bayern, and by extension, for U.S. Soccer if he does in fact remain with the first team this season.
1. Consistent training with Bayern's first team
There's likely no better incubator for talent in the world than the training ground of Bayern Munich. Practicing against some of the best players in the world (Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, the list goes on) can only sharpen the notable technical abilities of Green. Watching, learning from, and playing with that world class group will also help him think at the speed necessary to make the most of his game.
2. Remaining under Pep Guardiola's watchful eye
It certainly says something about Green and his future that Guardiola himself is so keen on the player. Guardiola's eye for players, particularly those in the mold of Green (small and quick; succeeds due to soccer IQ, vision and technical ability) is unassailable, particularly when considering the coach's experience within Barcelona's celebrated system. While Guardiola faces pressure to win, as all Bayern managers do, he maintains an admirable outlook for up-and-coming players that stems from his time in Spain. Green could benefit mightily from the direct tutelage of Guardiola.
3. Standing by for his chance
As long as Green is with Bayern's first team, he remains at the ready to step in if circumstances demand. It's difficult to know how much Guardiola would trust a 19-year-old in any of the multiple competitions Bayern competes in this season, but if Green is nearby and healthy, he could very well get a shot at more top-level minutes.
1. Lack of Playing time
While it's possible Green could be tapped by Guardiola to play a role in the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, or Champions League at any point this season, it's unlikely the forward will see nearly as much time as he might on a loan stint at another club. Bayern is stacked with talented, experienced players who formed the core of Germany's World Cup team or starred for their respective countries. Any time Green gets will be against weak competition, in mop up duty late in games, or as part of non-competitive matches.
In the right loan situation, Green could be counted on for regular minutes and tasked with scoring goals his parent club might not need from him. Most loans are about maturation, rhythm and consistency, all things Green must add to his list of attributes before he can become the player Bayern, and American fans, expect.
This, by a large margin, is the biggest concern facing Green if he stays with Bayern Munich.
2. Lack of a step between Regionalliga and top-flight
No loan means Green moves directly from the less-competitive environment of Germany's fourth division, the Regionalliga, to the top-flight. The Bundesliga might be the strongest league in the world from top to bottom, and without a step in between -- which Green might not need, though it's difficult to know -- the young forward will be tasked with taking his game up to the highest level on a very steep curve. If playing time comes, Green will be in a sink-or-swim environment, something he has only faced to this point in the late stages of a World Cup game that seemed like a lost cause anyway.
3. Higher expectations
In a lower pressure environment, even with more playing time as part of a loan, the spotlight on Green wouldn't be nearly so bright as it might every time he steps on the field for Bayern Munich. This factor doesn't matter if Green doesn't play, of course, but if he doesn't see the field for the German giants, the season will be mostly lost as a developmental tool regardless. Playing regular minutes for a lesser club could help Green adjust to the expectations that will follow him throughout most of his career. Staying with his parent club allows for no such easy transition.
4. Pep Guardiola's lack of patience
Yes, Guardiola's influence on Green is both a pro and a con. While the Bayern manager certainly knows talent when he sees it, he is also notorious for moving on quickly when players don't live up to their presumed abilities or see eye-to-eye with his philosophy. Bojan Krkic, once a highly prized Barcelona phenom and future star for the club, was sent packing to Roma in 2011 after several run-ins with Guardiola, most notably over whether Krkic should go back to Barcelona B. The Spanish coach's history with Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs no retelling. Green may seem like an earnest kid ready to earn his way onto the field by doing whatever Guardiola asks, but there's no guarantee the boss will hold the player's hand to get him there.