It was on September 17 that the worrying headlines began to emerge.
Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman would have to undergo heart surgery after the discovery of an irregularity. Mercifully, the issue was a small one, and ruled him out for just over a fortnight while he recovered.
But whenever the word ‘heart’ is used in reference to athletes, it is enough to send shivers down the spine. Keeping fit and healthy is vital to their careers, and any cardiac problems may well spell an early retirement.
The procedure was simple, went smoothly and ensured that Coman, after a brief period to rest, returned firing on all cylinders.
His health scare surfaced during a training session, with the 25-year-old complaining of a shortage of breath and being taken to hospital for assessments. There, tests showed that Coman was suffered from an irregular heartbeat.
In these cases, the electrical signals which coordinate the heart’s beat were causing it to go too fast or too slow, and Coman was enduring the former.
With his cardiac arrhythmia diagnosed, he went under the knife. Months on, he revealed to Telefoot that he initially feared what impact the surgery would have on his career – but also declared he would reach bigger heights than ever before.
‘It was a cardiac arrhythmia, I’ll let you look on Google,’ Coman said.
‘It’s been a little while that it was aggravated, there were small attacks, small moments when I I was out of breath a lot faster.
‘I thought it was going to be very complicated to continue playing like that, but in the end everything is fine, it’s going even better than before.
‘It gave me back the desire and a second wind.’
And it is this second wind which has has propelled him on to reach scintillating form since his return.
It would have been easy for Coman to have taken his foot off the gas in a bid to steadily return to his usual self, but there was no hesitancy on his part. Remarkably, he threw himself back into action on the training field and in matches.
The statistics back this up. Before his procedure, he registered no goals or assists in three games. But after making his comeback, he has scored four goals and laid on two assists from 11 games. He is sharper, quite simply, and enjoying a purple patch.
Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern’s manager, was quick to stress that Coman would be back in his plans as soon as he was able to play after his operation.
‘He had a slightly irregular heartbeat, a minor heart irregularity. We did a long-term ECG and carried out this operation,’ he said.
‘He’s doing very well and he has little wound pain.
‘Once the wound is healed then he will be able to start with rehab training and it won’t be more than 10 days to two weeks before he’s back in full training.’
Coman was brought on as a second-half substitute in the 5-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen on October 17 to play 26 minutes, and then found himself named in the starting line-up against Benfica in the Champions League just three days later.
In the latter clash, he was a menace down the left. His searing pace, trickery on the ball and lightning-fast footwork were all on display.
‘It was a good game. Benfica is a good team,’ Coman told DAZN.
‘But after the second goal, we had so many chances. I’m very happy that I’m back on the pitch playing without heart problems.’
Nagelsmann was not on the touchline for the group stage game due to Covid-19, meaning that coach Dino Toppmoller stood in for him.
And the temporary boss admitted he was thrilled by Coman’s devastating performance, saying: ‘In the second half, he really turned it on and almost made his opponent dizzy.’
His rich vein of form then continued over the next two Bundesliga matches. Sent on as a substitute against Hoffenheim on the right-hand side, he found the net after 87 minutes for his first goal of the season.
In their following fixture, Bayern swept Union Berlin away with a 5-2 win, and Coman again secured himself a spot on the scoresheet. On the hour mark, he beat goalkeeper Andreas Luthe to double his tally for the campaign.
By that point, he had become Benfica’s worst nightmare. In the reverse Champions League tie, he picked up an assist in Bayern’s emphatic triumph, having teed up the ever-prolific Robert Lewandowski for the opening goal.
Coman was not able to pick up a goal contribution against Freiburg and Arminia Bielefeld in the top-flight, but continued his eye-catching displays in Europe. Another goal came at Dynamo Kyiv, and he also starred against Barcelona.
In the recent, fierce Der Klassiker derby which saw Bayern increase their lead in top spot, the forward was also one of the stars of the show.
He put his side 2-1 up just before half-time, having capitalised on Borussia Dortmund being unable to clear their lines. The ball ricocheted kindly to him, and Coman duly dispatched a stunning strike through a crowd of bodies and into the roof of the net.
The man who scored the winning goal in the 2020 Champions League final, Coman has fought his way up to becoming a regular, key performer in Bavaria. Last season, in fact, he was potentially the club’s best wide player.
His red-hot return has handed Nagelsmann a very welcome dilemma indeed.
Jamal Musiala has delivered a number of stunning performances this year, while Leroy Sane is also aiming to return to his best. Serge Gnabry, who has rejuvenated his career since joining Bayern, is also being kept out of the team.
Such is the level of Coman’s progress, he has even been trusted to play at right wing back for his country, France. Against Kazakhstan, he was shoehorned into the wide position – and declared after the game that he agreed to take up the unusual role.
‘I told him [Didier Deschamps] that I could. In my club [Bayern] I have evolved a little in the same position with the ball and the first time it went very well,’ he said.
‘Defensively I’m not the strongest, for an offensive player I defend as best I can. What is certain is that this is not my best position.’
There are questions marks over his long-term future at Bayern, though. Currently, he is tied down until June 2023, but has not yet given any assurances to his club that he will stay beyond that date.
He has been offered several proposals to extend his stay, but has not given a definitive answer.
‘I have several options, we’ll see. The club will continue to speak with my advisers and we would have news soon,’ he said at a press conference.
It is understood that Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona have all expressed interest in signing him in the past, but Coman opted to stay with Bayern.
And having now made a stellar impression on Nagelsmann and the club’s supporters, it appears he is likely to remain at his current club – albeit on a higher wage. Sport Bild claimed that he is keen to earn between €16million and €18million.
In his 155 total appearances for Bayern, he has scored 36 goals. It is a reasonable return from a player who has been forced to fend off fierce competition on both flanks, and his club would do well to bow to his demands and tie him down.
If his post-procedure form is anything to go by, there is plenty more to come.