Monday, 28 March 2011

Borussia Dortmund: A Young Man's Journey

Yes, it's holiday period again, so this can only mean one thing, a social outburst of blogging where I will knuckle down and finally find some time to revert back to my old routes of writing. And what a way to start surely? Not my most imaginative blog by any stretch but one by all means that is extremely different, and by far more interesting than any previous football writings. Now for many reading, the team in question has already been given away, however why am I writing about them? A young man's journey? What could this mean? For many years now, I have been intrigued and to an extent, obsessed with the development and careers of young footballers in the game, and seeing such players over time like Ryan Giggs and David Beckham excel from just schoolboys to idols in the footballing world, makes me even more curious as to how such a player can develop so well. The best example in the Premier League for developing young players is without a doubt, Arsene Wenger. In my eyes, one of the most frustrating managers in the country, I mean who could ever forget his cracking line of "I didn't see it!" in his usual, stereotypical monotone French accent, but I can only admire him for making Arsenal a force to be reckoned with and by producing and nurturing fantastic players from such a young age. Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere just two examples of the way the youth system at a club really has a bearing on the balance of the senior squad. The team I will be looking at for their sudden growth in young talent is German outfit Borussia Dortmund. A relatively quiet and unknown side in terms of the European radar, but possibly one to be appreciated because of the system their club is producing in terms of bringing up footballers to become fully recognised talents.

Now I will not go on too much about the history of the club, but this time more to the point, identifying talents in their current squad, and going into more detail on certain players within that side. Dortmund are a side who have historically based the centrality of their side around the more experienced players, but there are nine key players in their current squad I wish to talk about. All of them under the age of 23, and all of them with the potential to make it into the big time of European and World football.

To start with, I have 23-year-old left back Marcel Schmelzer. A German international who played his first match for Dortmund in August 2008, part of the U21 Germany side who won the U21 European Championship in 2009. Schmelzer has now established himself as a key component of Borussia's back four, and has earnt himself a cap for Germany in the meantime. Started his career at the club as a youngster in 2005 and definitely has potential to rise to the top of German and European football if he continues his good form.

Next up is Polish international Robert Lewandowski.This 22-year-old striker moved to Germany from Lech Poznan for a reported fee of around 4.5 million euros, and the young striker has made a huge impact on the Bundesliga as well as Polish football as a whole. He is widely admired amongst Polish nationals, and even featured on the Polish market edition of FIFA 10 alongside Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. Lewandowski made his Polish debut at the age of 20 and has made 31 appearances for his country scoring an impressive 10 goals. At such a young age, he has already been attracting attention from both England and Italy, but is currently a vital place on Borussia's future climb up the German league.

Another 22-year-old, and this time a German winger. Kevin Grosskreutz. Lifelong supporter and habitant of Dortmund, Grosskreutz has been linked with Real Madrid in recent weeks but has recently signed a contract extension keeping him at Dortmund until 2014. He is a creative winger with trickery and skill, and he offers that added bit of spice in the Dortmund attacking forté. He currently has 12 goals since joining in the early stages of last season.

Next up is highly rated Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa. That's right, this is the Manchester United are pretty keen on at the moment apparently, and good job they are really as Kagawa has become a fantastic player in the last year. Already holds 21 caps for Japan, which includes five goals, and his self-confidence is something to admire. An example...well previous to the Revierderby against their bitter rivals Schalke 04, Kagawa claimed he would score two goals in this game. Dortmund won the game 3-1. Kagawa scored two goals. At just the age of 22, he certainly is one to keep an eye out for, and I'm sure Sir Alex Ferguson will be keeping a close eye on him over the coming months.

Another 22-year old, but this time Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin. Currently the youngest player to have played, and scored for Turkey at the age of just 17! Has strangely only picked up another 21 caps in the next six years but with time on his side, I'm sure Sahin's career in the natuional side will become more and more prominent. Strange as it goes, he is the key man for my Celtic side on Football Manager games. In August 2005, he became the youngest player to have played in the Bundesliga at the age of 16 years and 335 days, and just there months later became the youngest player to score, against Nuremburg. Hot Prospect!

Neven Subotic. Big name now, at 22 years of age, Serbian international Subotic has already been linked highly with big European sides in Chelsea and Real Madrid. 92 appearances for Dortmund, and 22 appearances for Serbia along with being in the Serbia national side for the 2010 World Cup, he is the future of the national back four. Despite having the option to play for Bosnia and The United States, Subotic only really wanted to play for Serbia. Now a fantastic partner for Vidic for the national side, and for Dortmund works well with the person next on my list. One to watch!

And the next person on my list is 22-year-old German defender Mats Hummels. Not originally a product of the Dortmund youth, instead he came from Bayern Munich but moved to Borussia on loan in 2008 before making his move permanent in 2009 to become the new central partner for Subotic. Hummels has two caps for Germany, and he is considered one of the best young defenders in the Bundesliga, and has been praised by coaches and pundits on his tackling, positional play and composure on the ball and in defence. He is also part of the U21 team that won the 2009 European Championship.

21-year-old defensive midfielder Sven Bender is the penultimate man on the list. Not a huge name in Germany or even in the Dortmund side but evenso, he is a major factor of Borussia's midfield and instrumental to hsi team's success in the middle of the park. After spending most of his early career with 1860 Munich he moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2009 and has made 44 appearances for the side, scoring one goal. He received his first national call-up to the German side last month in a friendly against italy but remained an unused substitute.

And finally. They say save the best until last and I am not one to break that tradition so I reveal to you who I feel is one of the most electrifying and exciting prospects not just in Germany, but in the entire world. Mario Gotze. He is a product of the Dortmund youth system after joining the club at just the age of 8, and just a massive example of the talent the club is currently producing. Only 18-years-old, Gotze has already received three caps for Germany and made 31 appearances for his team. He made his senior international debut against Sweden in a friendly after making the grade through several youth ranks for Germany. This is my key man of the Borussia side. His pace, skill and composure make him a talented player, with a stable footballing mind, and at such a young age, Gotze certainly has potential to become one of the best in the world.

A youth product at a football team is vital to the stability of a club, and to the future of a football team. Arsenal have shown over a number of years that having a huge, talented youth department makes them a competitive force within the Premier League, and in Germany, Borussia Dortmund are doing the exactly the same, and maybe the time is now that their players are starting to show their true value and true potential, and still with years ahead of them! It is a stark reminder in the footballing world that money isn't everything when it comes to buying players. Yes, there are some players who are undervalued, and many who are overvalued, but maybe investing in a youth product and a potentially threatning and strong youth department is the future for football, and maybe it is key to not just a team or a league, but to the beautiful game as a whole. The older, experienced players have had their turn and produced some of the most beautiful football ever, but are we entering a new generation of rare, exciting talent? Born and bred to simply serve football, and to provide entertainment worldwide. I'm not saying that certain sides do not invest in their youth, because across the world we have seen some fantastic young players come through teh ranks at their home teams and develop into fascinating footballers. Every club does it. But, it would seem Borussia Dortmund are certainly for this movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment