In the annual readers’ poll conducted by respected journal kicker for the title Newcomer of the Year, a sensational 51.5 percent of the 181,722 votes went to Bayern starlet David Alaba. It was a dream result for the 20-year-old Austrian, who earned regular status at left-back for FCB in the second half of last season with a string of consistently strong performances.
David’s fellow pros also hailed his achievement, as the poll conducted by the professional footballers’ union (VDV) among players in the top four divisions in Germany also placed Alaba in top spot with 27.4 percent of the votes, ahead of Mönchengladbach's Patrick Herrmann on 16.6 percent. However, the Munich starlet is only too well aware that achievement in the past means nothing in terms of future success.
“It's pre-season and everyone starts again with the slate wiped clean," Alaba said after Friday morning training. “In the new season, every player has to prove himself again. It's a new year for all of us," he continued, noting that “very good new players have joined us. Each individual has to give it all he has and try for a place in the team."
The Vienna-born utility man made 30 Bundesliga appearances last term, and was a regular from the 21st matchday onwards. He started out in defensive midfield, but switched to left-back and made the position his own in early March when FCB demolished Hoffenheim 7–1. “I hope it continues like the last half-year," said David, “I want to play as many games as possible."
Setting new targets
Alaba was forced to watch the Champions League final against Chelsea from the stands due to suspension, but the 20-year-old said he had moved on from the club's bitter defeat while on vacation. “We have to turn our focus to the future, set ourselves new targets, and hit them, of course. I'll give it my best shot in every training session and try and put myself forward."
Newcomer Mitchell Weiser, who joined Munich from FC Köln a few days ago, is aiming for the level already reached by Alaba. “Overall, coming to Bayern is a dream," declared the gifted 18-year-old, “I've set myself very high standards, and that's what I’ve found at Bayern." Mitchell rates as Köln’s youngest ever Bundesliga player when he made his debut at the age of 17 years, 10 months and four days – and his counterpart at Bayern is Alaba, who was just 17 years, eight months and 12 days old when he made his first top-flight appearance.
Learning from the big names
Weiser, who feels at home “on both wings," is taking a realistic approach for the time being. “I want to watch the great players and learn from them," the Germany junior international explained, “over the long term, I'd obviously like to become a regular at some point, but I've not set myself any deadlines. I believe I have it in me to make it at some stage. In a year or two maybe, and it’s not a problem if it takes three years. I'm allowing myself however long it takes."
Team-mate Alaba has already spotted a great talent in the making. “He's not come to Bayern by accident. He's very, very talented and he’s shown it in training. He's doing exceptionally well," the Austria international enthused. As for Mitchell, he already feels comfortable in his new environment: “It's just as I imagined it would be." The only problem for the Rhineland native is the Bavarian dialect: “I have no issues apart from the way they speak. I just don't understand it." However, that can surely be solved in time.