Sunday, 25 March 2012

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Rough Diamonds #8-Moritz Leitner (Borussia Dortmund)



Over the last few years, Germany has produced some of the most talented attackers in the world. Ranging from lethal goal scorers like Mario Gomez, to the simple yet creative Toni Kroos, we’ve seen them all being born in the Bundesliga. One club that has seen innumerable talents coming to the fore is Borussia Dortmund. Many people would attribute BVB’s success to their starlets.


During their triumphant campaign, Jurgen Klopp fathered the rise of stars like Mats Hummels, Shinji Kagawa, Kevin Grosskreutz, Mario Götze and Sven Bender. Half way through their success story last season, Dortmund acquired the services of a relatively unknown midfielder, Moritz Leitner. His career in the 2.Bundesliga was not an eye-catcher. The central midfielder made 16 appearances for 1860 Munich in the 2010-11 season, showing his quality but not managing to stamp his authority in the league.

Having been picked up for a minimal fee of € 800,000, Leitner was immediately shipped back to the 2.Bundesliga, this time to Augsburg on loan. The diminutive midfielder was influential in Augsburg’s return to the top division, providing 2 assists in his 9 appearances. After a successful loan spell, the 19 year old returned to the German champions and has not looked back ever since.

Klopp has had his fair share of worries this season, especially with Sven Bender being unavailable in fairly regular spells and Nuri Sahin having left for Real Madrid last summer. His second choice midfielder has been Ilkay Gündogan, but the former Nuremberg man has been far from impressive. It has been primarily due to Gündogan’s inability to perform that young Leitner has been called upon this season.

At the ripe age of 19, Leitner has been nothing short of brilliant. Although he may not be as defensively sound as first team regular, Sven Bender, he has shown that his passing ability surpasses that of any other central midfielder at the club – lets hope he can replace Sahin over the next few years. A fairly good work rate, and decent positional sense have allowed Leinter to compliment captain, Sebastian Kehl, wonderfully in the center of midfield.

Numbers may not point in Leitner’s favor at the moment, but anyone who has seen this kid play will vouch for his ingenuity. Also, age isn’t on Kehl’s side anymore and Bender will surely go on to take his place as the destroyer in midfield. Although Dortmund may not be lacking in creativity at the moment, a deeper midfielder pulling the strings would most obviously be appreciated. And there is no better player at the club at the moment than Moritz Leitner.

Another point that works in favor of Leitner is his ability to slot into more than one position. He has shown that he can play both as a central midfielder – Xavi like – or as an attacking midfielder who sits behind the striker – just like Kagawa does at Dortmund now. This flexibility in his position could be crucial in the future, assuming that Leitner moves to another club.

At Dortmund, I can only see this teenager succeed. If he does decide to move to a bigger club, it should be timed to perfection and his choice of the club will be immensely important – just look at Dortmund’s beloved Sahin. As long as this kid makes the right decisions over the next few years, nothing but success and glory shall be strewn across his path.
 


-Aditya Balaram
 Milan And Me
 Footie Magic


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