In 2021, German super club Bayern Munich announced a new project: the World Squad. The team was made with the aim of creating “an additional opportunity for talents from all over the world to realize [their] dream,” in the words of World Squad coach Christopher Loch. You can find the first episode here.
The series, which recently finished its second season, has proven successful. It’s opened up chances for players to make moves overseas, like Nigerian talent Daniel Francis, who earned a contract with the club. However, not everybody made the cut.
At the end of the first season, four players were released, ending their stints with the club. However, a total of eight players from the initial side did not return, with several electing to not rejoin. What exactly happened to the eight players that did not rejoin Bayern’s World Squad?
Abdoulaye Gueye, Goalkeeper, 19
Gueye was one of just a few European players to make the roster, hailing from Italy before moving to Germany. However, Gueye was unable to cement a starting spot, with Bayern electing to keep Croatian goalkeeper Jakov Borna Žaja instead. That’s not to say they didn’t see potential in Gueye: Klaus Augenthaler, a World Squad coach, put the decision down to Žaja’s younger age and the fact that Gueye is local, making a return possible.
In July 2022, Gueye joined TSV Landsberg, a team in the Bayernliga Süd (a regional fifth-division league in Germany). In the first half of the season, he remained on the bench behind former Bayern II goalkeeper David Hundertmark. However, Hundertmark is ineligible for the remainder of the season and Gueye has taken over, winning his first league game. With Landsberg pushing for promotion, this will be a big test of Gueye’s abilities.
Mateo Franzotti, Defender, 20
Mateo Franzotti was one of two defenders from Argentine club Club Atlético Unión to make the original World Squad, alongside Gerónimo Vidal. Franzotti put in some strong performances and left an impression on the Bayern World Squad coaches, who requested he and Vidal return: Vidal did, but Franzotti did not return.
No reason was ever given for Franzotti’s absence, but he appears to be focused on earning a role with CA Unión back in Argentina. He’s been on the bench for five of the first six games of their Argentine Primera División season, and a debut can’t be too far away.
Nika Nozadze, Midfielder, 19
Nozadze is one of many young Georgian players starting to impress, with the country’s younger generation of players leading the way forward for the national team. However, Nozadze, who was without a club during the World Squad, did not make the squad for the second season. Augenthaler stated that Nozadze made progress but wasn’t good enough for the World Squad.
Nozadze is currently without a club, having last played for the reserves of Georgian side FC Gagra in 2020. A report from 2022 suggested the midfielder was on trial with Serie D side Catania, but he is not on the Italian side’s roster. Even his Instagram page (yes, I’ve really checked everything) hasn’t been updated in months, and it’s hard to tell what is next for Nozadze.
Lennyn Carreon, Midfielder, 19
The only American on the team, Carreon admitted in the final episode of Season 1 that he did perform at his best level. Carreon was good, even assisting his side’s lone strike against the Bayern u19s in the final episode. Unfortunately, Carreon was told the same thing as Nozadze: he showed potential, but it just wasn’t good enough for the World Squad.
Carreon returned to San Diego, linking up with National Independent Soccer Association side Albion San Diego. He enjoyed a decent season, breaking into the first team and even scoring in the semifinals as San Diego reached (but lost) the final.
Kadir Can Gündogdu, Midfielder, 19
Kadir Can Gündogdu was initially not even supposed to make the World Squad. As one of the final decisions of the original team, Gündogdu faced off against Alekzandar-Boris Sinabov to determine who would make the team. Sinabov won, but the absence of two players (more on that later) meant Gündogdu was invited back on the team.
Gündogdu impressed the coaches with his dribbling and attacking talent, and was invited back to the team for Season 2. He didn’t return to Bayern, though, as the German-born Turkish talent signed with Turkish side Alanyaspor’s u19s in 2022. This season, he has seven goals and one assist in the u19 Süper Lig (scoring four and assisting nine last season) and could make his debut soon.
Jose Mulato Palacios, Forward, 20
Palacios was, with little doubt, the star of Season 1 in Bayern’s World Squad. He impressed throughout the series, proving to be powerful in the air and having strong finishing. Palacios scored the World Squad’s lone goal against Bayern’s u19s, and World Squad coaches Augenthaler and Loch raved about Palacios at the end of season meeting.
However, Palacios’ career has taken him elsewhere — not that a move to Bayern is out of the question. Palacios left Colombia for FC Dallas, an American partner of Bayern Munich. After spending last season in the reserves, he debuted in the club’s season opener and looks to play a bigger role this season.
Alekzandar-Boris Sinabov, Forward, 19
Sinabov beat Gündogdu to the final spot on the roster initially, and the Bulgarian was confident from the start. In an interview, he described himself as a mixture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robert Lewandowski, and he converted a penalty in the side’s first match in Mexico. However, the goals soon dried up, and Sinabov was not invited to return for Season 2.
Sinabov switched clubs within months of the World Squad, joining VfR Garching in the Bayernliga Süd (the same league that Gueye plays in). However, in 2022 after scoring six times, he moved to the fourth tier of German soccer with TSV Buchbach. So far this season he has made just three league appearances, all as a substitute in blowout losses.
Gao Xu, Forward, 18
Gao Xu was one of two players who made the initial Bayern World Squad but was not allowed to participate, with Indian forward Shubho Paul being the other. Both players were unable to travel to be with the squad during the coronavirus pandemic, and he was replaced by a German: Kadir Can Gündogdu.
Paul was able to participate in Season 2, but Gao Xu did not return — although there was another Chinese forward on the roster, Zecheng Pan. Unfortunately, I’ve been able to find no information on what has happened to Gao Xu’s career despite multiple database searches, but it’s safe to say he’s not exactly a star right now.
With the World Squad continuing to develop, it will be interesting to see which players miss the cut as well as the ones that make the team. Bayern could regret letting some of these players leave in a few years.
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