Dortmund don’t necessarily produce the best young talents, but they certainly have an eye for talent. The likes of Lewandowski, Reus, Gündoğan, Bender etc have all been purchased from elsewhere and been developed into top footballers. It’s one of the best clubs in the World for a youngster to develop.
The latest young recruit to make it into Dortmund’s first team is Jonas Hofmann who joined the club’s II team from Hoffenheim in 2009.
After starting off his career with FC Rot, Jonas Hofmann earned a move to Hoffenheim; a move which proved to be particularly beneficial to young Jonas as he received a call-up to the U-18 national team during this period.
He gradually rose through the ranks at Hoffenheim, impressing for both the U-17 & U-19 sides before moving up to Hoffenheim’s II team. His most important break came in the 2011/12 season when he was picked up by Dortmund scouts and drafted to the II team. He scored on his debut in the opening game of the season vs Kaiserslautern II and capped off a successful campaign with a brace in the last game against Wuppertaler SV. In total, he finished the campaign with 10 goals and 11 assists.
He continued the 12/13 season with a regular starting berth in the II team. Jurgen Klopp, however, decided to promote the youngster to the first team. He named him on the bench for the Revierdeby against Schalke. His debut however only came 2 months later against his ex-club, Hoffenheim. He started the game against Augsburg towards the end of the season, completing the entire 90 minutes and racking up an assist. He went on to start the final game of the campaign as well, against Fortuna Dusseldorf.
This current campaign, Hofmann has been making regular cameos for the first team. He is yet to start a game but has managed to score his first goal, that coming against Braunschweig in a 2-1 victory. Hope is that he continues to feature regularly for Klopp’s side.
Hofmann has appeared for the German U-18s and U-21s, appearing in 5 games at both levels and scoring a solitary goal.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
He prefers to play on the wings and is adept at playing on both flanks but he likes to change positions across the field, thus he isn’t static in his play but rather serves as a more dynamic attacking outlet. It helps him to create space for midfielders and full-backs which is extremely important in Dortmund’s system.
We’ll start off with his weaknesses. Like almost any other attacking minded player, Hofmann’s defensive contribution is noticeably deficient. His pressing ability is adequate but then again, he wouldn’t have a chance of playing for Dortmund without that part of his game. He knows how to narrow the space for the opponent and is able to benefit from these kind of positions. The first illustration (above) explains how he narrows the opponent’s angle and passing channels. In the particular incident depicted above, he snatched the ball from the opponent and created a dangerous goal-scoring opportunity for his side. The problem starts to appear when Dortmund defends zonally. His positional knowledge isn’t good enough yet. He easily loses his positioning in a zonal defence system, an aspect of his game that needs improvement.
The other weak point of his game is his crossing ability. His crosses aren’t good enough for a top quality winger. He definitely needs to improve in this area.
Physically, he is an average player. Agile and fast but not powerful enough, specially in one on one situations. He knows how to use his speed and agility but if he faces a opponent who can match his pace, he tends to struggle a bit. He has a lot to do physically to improve and become a starter at BVB.
Onto his strengths now. The most noteworthy thing about his game is his deadly forward runs.
Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the World and you can use him as a Target man if you need. Jonas prefers to use him as a target man to make more efficient forward runs and it helps him to showcase his talents easily. He is imperturbable inside the box which helps him to improve his finishing ability and in the future he is going to be able to score more goals.
The other major positive about his game is that he calculates every move before he receives the ball. It makes his game fluent as well, because he doesn’t need time to think and dwell on the ball, all he needs to do is play.
These two pictures show us that he is able to create empty spaces for his team-mates, especially for the full-backs. He likes to cut inside which creates space for the full-backs to bomb forward and provide supply to the strikers. His through balls are good enough to create chances for teammates.
I don’t expect him to be a top player like Marco Reus or Ilkay Gündoğan but he can be a important first XI player for Dortmund. As we know, Jurgen Klopp is a master when it comes to improving young players and Hofmann is at the best place to further his game.
“Hofmann has so far been, alongside perhaps Max Meyer, the most exciting young player in the Bundesliga this season. Versatile tactically and eager on the ball, he has been the surprise package of a Dortmund attack filled with talent. The fact that he has already racked up 17 appearances this season speaks volumes of what Klopp thinks of him and the potential he holds. Hofmann is not the finished product but very much looks the part of another talented young German attack that can make the breakthrough.”
“Hofmann is just the type of player Dortmund need coming off the bench, if not yet as a starter. His crossing and tactical play-making vision are first-team calibre. He lags in some areas, though, and perhaps could do well with a loan. Given more time to refine his skills, he could be a starter at a club on the level of Schalke or Leverkusen.”
“Polyvalent player, his biggest asset is a very clean pass. He brings creativity and cheekiness on the pitch and has a very good sense for defensive positioning. He knows from what angle to attack a player to have a good covering shadow. He is pretty quick, as most BVB players and can play with both feet. Jonas has an eye for goal, and goes for placement instead of power. He can run a lot, he is basically everything Klopp likes in a player, so I’m puzzled why he hasn’t played so often this year. He usually plays at the right wing, but can also play in the hole. Most importantly to say he his game-intelligence is what makes him good.”
“I think he is one of Borussia’s biggest talents at the moment. Great speed, has a good vision and has shown that he can be used as an impact sub. I think Klopp knows how to use him and that we are likely to see more and more in the future.”
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