Generally speaking, the ideal attacker would have the expressiveness of a street footballer and the discipline of a footballer coached by one of Europe’s elite from a young age. Think Lionel Messi’s South American/La Masia hybrid upbringing, or Thierry Henry moving from the Les Ulis suburb in Paris to Arsène Wenger’s tuition at Monaco.
There are exceptions to the rule and players who buck trends, but Oliver Batista Meier is potentially everything you want in a footballer’s background, at the very least. Born in 21st Century western Germany, Meier is one of Bayern Munich’s brightest teenage sparks – alongside Mario Götze’s brother Felix among others – and has represented Germany at each youth level. He moved to the Bavarian giants last year from Kaiserslautern’s academy, in a deal worth around £360k, and he won the under 17 Bundesliga title with the club last year. So far, not so different from senior football.
But where Oliver Batista Meier differs from classically Deutsch culture is in his Brazilian ancestry. Meier is 5’10, right-footed and deployed as a silky left-winger in Bayern’s set-up. He’s comfortable just about anywhere in the final third of the pitch though, and while German footballers do still have the stigma of largely being system players lacking flair, Meier is radically different.
Usually the set-piece specialist for Bayern, Meier is a big fan of chipped and clipped balls over the top of defences, and spreading play from his left side when it’s overloaded, onto the right-hand side. His short passing is solid too, his awareness of the game around him is good, and he combines his very Brazilian meandering style of dribbling with an almost effortless unselfishness at times. Meier generally looks to move play inside, but as he isn’t gifted with the most electric of pace, he sometimes pulls in defenders, only to hold onto possession and use his overlapping full back or pass inside.
Meier’s close control with the ball is perhaps what sets him apart. He runs slinkily, always on the lookout for space to burst into, but he’s capable of wrong-footing defenders in a tight spot and has been known to drift so far inside, that he creates chances for himself, let alone his teammates. In the UEFA Youth League last month against Celtic, suffering with cramp at the time, Meier scored the winning goal having picked the ball up close to the corner flag.
While Meier is often the creator, he does find himself on the receiving end of key passes from his teammates, and generally his finishing is good. Typically, he places the ball into the net rather than smashing it, and despite being passionately right-footed, he often takes shots first time with his left; not unlike a certain Ousmane Dembélé. He’s composed in the box, always looking for the right moment to pull the trigger, and enjoys looking for a run into the half-space between centre and full backs to receive possession. As well as his prowess within the box, he’s been known to hit the target from free kicks, too.
The consensus at the Allianz is that 16-year-old Meier is ready for a step up and pushing well above his weight. Though he’s at a club with a plethora of talented senior wingers ahead of him in the pecking order, Meier’s drive with the ball and adaptability up front will make him popular with coaches in future years, and as he develops physically, it will be interesting to see if his running style evolves as he grows stronger.
Oliver Batista Meier is definitely the kind of mercurial winger that Germans will be keeping an eye on in future years; that is if he decides to represent his European heritage at senior level. The potential is certainly there for Meier to become a game-changing winger, and he’s one to watch over the next few months.