Mastering the mental side of the game will be vital for Sarpreet Singh, as he begins his remarkable journey at Bayern Munich, according to a leading German football analyst.

The former Wellington Phoenix midfielder got a taste of first team action last week, as he was given 45 minutes off the bench against Arsenal in a pre-season match in Los Angeles.

It must have been a head spinning moment for the 20-year-old, with the likes of Mesut Ozil in the opposition and Robert Lewandowski beside him in attack, but he acquitted himself well.

It was also a positive sign. Bayern will give exposure to a lot of players over the next few weeks, and took a large contingent to the United States, but not the entire reserve team squad.


But there's still a long way to go, as very few players have made the leap from the second tier Bayern squad to the Bundesliga.

It's not quite the gaping chasm you'll see at some English Premier League clubs — who struggle to convert any graduates — but still a tightrope-like path to navigate.

"A few years ago there was one player each season," explained football writer Benedikt Warmbrunn, who has covered the Bavarian club for almost 15 years for Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany biggest newspapers, that first broke the Panama Papers investigation.

"There was Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller. But in recent years it's been a lot more rare. Defender Lukas Mai has played a few times but he's not yet a guy for the starting XI and [Canadian] Alphonso Davies had a few matches last winter. But it's very tough to get there."

Warmbrunn said the last player to make an enduring transition from the reserve side to first team regular was David Alaba. The fullback, who was the youngest player to play for Austria when he made his international debut as a 17-year-old, took two full seasons to progress.

Sarpreet Singh during a Bayern Munich training session. Photo / Getty
Sarpreet Singh during a Bayern Munich training session. Photo / Getty

So what qualities do you need to come through the pack, at a club that has recently opened offices in Shanghai and New York, has seven football academies around the globe and a vast network of partnerships and scouts?

"First of all the talent, and then the right skills that are needed at that moment," said Warmbrunn. "When Alaba came through they needed someone on the left side so you have to be this one, at the right time. With Muller it was similar; they needed someone as a backup at the front, so that is important, a bit of a chance.

"But what is really important is the mindset. There is a lot going on around the club and you have to be strong enough to cope with all of that. That's the point that most young players don't have, to be able to get up there.


"And you have to be patient. No one is going to break into the first team in the first few weeks. Some guys go off to another club because they can't wait, or they think they already made it because they are at Bayern Munich. That's where a lot of them fail."

Warmbrunn points out that Bayern are usually patient, prepared to invest time into developing their prospects.

"They might spend one, two, even three years in the reserve team, and perhaps go [on loan] to another club for a year and then come back, if they believe in the player but think he is not quite ready for the first team," said Warmbrunn. "Alaba was at Hoffenheim, Toni Kroos went to Bayer Leverkusen for two years. Davies might stay another season here, and then go on loan, I'm not sure."

Warmbrunn predicts a similar path for Singh.

"I think it could be the same with your guy, I don't know," said Warmbrunn. "Perhaps he is a surprise and he is going to make it to the first team in a few weeks. No one knows but if not, I think that it is his path ... maybe two years and then a loan."

Warmbrunn, who is part of a 70-strong media pack on Bundesliga match days at Bayern, admits the recruitment of a player from the bottom of the world caught him on the hop.

"On the one hand yes, I've been surprised, on the other hand, it's part of the new strategy of the club to get players from all over the world and they have partnerships in China, Africa and Japan," said Warmbrunn. "They are trying to get the best players from around the globe."

The Bayern second team will play in the third tier of German football this season, after winning promotion during the last campaign.

"It's a good standard," said Warmbrunn. "There are some teams that have been playing in the Bundesliga a few years ago so for the young players it's a challenge, most definitely.

"The fourth division is very physical; the '3. Liga' (the third division) is still physical, but more technical. There are also some clubs with great traditions and a lot of fans, so it can be a great atmosphere."