Yet to truly break into the collective consciousness of the German footballing community, Johannes Geis is one for the future if there ever was one. With the German youth pipeline sitting atop the European production tree and arguably being the best in the world at current, Geis is just one of many examples of footballers that hail from the land of the Rhine that will leave his mark in years to come.
Who is Johannes Geis?
Born in Schweinfurt, situated in the Lower Franconia region of Bavaria, Geis began his footballing career with small clubs at youth level, before finally moving to Greuther Fürth in 2008 at the age of 15. Coming through the youth ranks at the Bavarian club, Geis proved himself for both club, as well as for the German youth set up, featuring for Die Mannschaft from U-16 to U-19 during his tenure there.
After Fürth won promotion to the Bundesliga in 2012, an abysmal showing from the minnows saw them quickly return to the second division, and Mainz 05 would capitalize by bringing in Geis that same summer for a small fee of 800k pounds – he would prove to be worth every penny, and much more.
In his two years in the top flight with Mainz, Geis has proven to be one of the best holding midfielders in the country despite his tender age of 21, and easily being on par with the likes of fellow youngster and Bayern Münich holding midfielder Sebastian Rode. Sixty-seven appearances out of a possible sixty-eight for his current employers is beyond credible, while being one of the standout performers for a Mainz side that has struggled to maintain their status of being a mid-table club.
Given his current abilities and age, the possibilities are endless for the German youth international, and with Mainz languishing in 11th to finish out the domestic campaign and bereft of adequate funding to improve in the long run, his future could very well be located in another part of Bavaria…but we’ll get to that later on.
Geis was also named in the Bundesliga U-22 Team of the Season 2014-15.
Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses
A holding midfielder through and through, Geis is not just your “win the ball and pass it on to the closest player” – there is a real creative mind in his locker, and only Mainz’s inability to score more goals has held his stats back from being even more impressive numbers than where they currently sit. He won’t get you a ton of goals (he has never scored more than four in the Bundesliga, which happened this year), but it’s his ability to be the shield of the back four and then be creative once he gets the ball that makes Geis such a talent.
Taking the liberty to crunch the numbers via Squawka.com, I compared Geis to fellow holding midfielders Sebastian Rode, Lars Bender, Ilkay Gundogan and Christoph Kramer, who are all full German internationals:
|Pass Comp %||73%||88%||70%||86%||87%|
Note: All stats from a per 90min matrix via Squawka.com
Despite being the youngest of the five midfielders in the comparison, Geis is incredibly competitive in every category that comes into play when you consider what you want from a holding player. Despite only being 5ft 9.5in, Geis is strong in the air as well as in the tackle, while being able to close down the oppositions supply lines astutely. The most impressive part of his talents however, is his ability to create from deeper areas, something he has done more effectively than most holding midfielders not just in Germany, but also in Europe on the whole.
During his time with Mainz, Geis has slotted well into a side that lived and died on the counter, and while he is not the most accurate of passers, that’s not an attribute weighted as higher as others considering the longer the pass you make, the less likely it will be accurate.
There is no telling if he would be able to make the transition to a side that prefers possession (like Bayern), but considering that he truthfully is learning his trade and is five or six years away from his footballing prime, he not only has plenty of room to grow by leaps and bounds from a technical standpoint, but he also has plenty of room to mature as a person, an attribute that is so often overlooked when looking at younger players.
The most impressive side of Geis’ game, more than any other, surely must be the level of his intelligence. As mentioned before, his ability to close down passing lanes so effectively at such a young age is a quality that cannot be understated, while being able to survey the pitch ahead of him and pull the strings from 30 yards plus behind the attack is a combination that surely will find him at a much bigger club before long.
The potential is there, while the room to improve and polish this diamond in the rough is such that his future is very bright, and we should be seeing him at the fore of the German midfield for years to come.
What does the future hold?
If you ask any one from any country around the world, you’ll get a mountain of responses about who they feel has a bright future ahead of them, but if anyone can produce world class players at such a young age, it’s the Germans. Never afraid to give a full international debut young players who have the tools to help keep Germany continue to sit atop the European perch, it’s only a matter of time before Geis gets the run out he so richly deserves.
The bigger question to be considered however is his next move at club level. While the national team are not afraid to cap a player who isn’t at Bayern, it’s uncertain whether Mainz is the place he needs to be in the long term, and I suspect that it won’t be before long that he finds himself in different surroundings.
While I don’t want this to end up in transfer speculation, it is worth noting two points: 1. Bayern do love to pip the best German players off Bundesliga clubs, and 2. Xabi Alonso, Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger are all aging fast. The club does have the aforementioned Rode on the books as well as Javi Martinez, but Geis is a young player you could build your midfield around for the next decade.
There is no telling where he will go, but whether he leaves Mainz this summer or the next, expect Johannes Geis to be one of the standout midfielders in Germany (and for Germany) for years to come.
Written by Andrew Thompson