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John Smith writes a detailed scout report about Julian Brandt, the Leverkusen and Germany winger.
Leverkusen are experiencing a real high right now. The team is playing some great football under Roger Schmidt, and results are also being achieved, with qualification for the Champions League knockouts almost a certainty at this point. A number of exciting young talents are also being brought through the ranks, with players like Tah, Henrichs, and Pohjanpalo among others making quite an impact. One of these bright sparks is Julian Brandt.
For many top football clubs across Europe, it’s becoming an ongoing theme that the team continues a much greater mixture of both young exciting talents along with experienced stars. At German club Bayer Leverkusen, this is no different. Julian Brandt is a prolific winger, born in Bremen, Germany on the 2nd of May 1996. Having aspirations of becoming a professional footballer from a young age, Brandt joined his hometown club SC Borgfeld in 2001 at the age of 5, but left the club in 2009 after attracting the interest of FC Oberneuland.
During a two year stint at his new club, Brandt played regularly for the junior teams before he attracted the interest of VfL Wolfsburg. Joining the club in 2011, Brandt became a regular for the youth team whilst grabbing the attention of his country – Germany. In two years at Wolfsburg, Brandt quickly became a regular for the youth team whilst making more than 20 appearances for Germany across the U15 and U17 levels. Interest in the winger soon grew as he scored 27 goals in 48 games across the two seasons and even helped his side win the youth league.
Despite the success, Brandt soon got his big break in the 2014 January transfer window as he was purchased by Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the region of €350,000. Although originally subjected to the reserve team, Brandt made his professional debut in a fixture against Schalke 04, losing 1-2. Throughout his first season with the club, Brandt made rotational appearances in the first team, putting on a variety of impressive performances. This was proven in the summer of 2014, as Brandt was selected in the German squad that went on to win the European U19 Championship.
For the next two years that followed, Brandt soon began to make more of a name for himself in the Bayer Leverkusen first team, as he quickly earned a lot more playing time at the BayArena. Whilst impressing for his club, it wasn’t long before the youngster soon saw himself playing for higher tiers of the German National Team, until he was finally called up to the German squad in 2016.
In May 2015, Brandt was lucky enough to be included in Joachim Low’s preliminary 27-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016, but unfortunately failed to make it to the final 23. Out of the EURO squad, the winger remained focused to achieve his goal of representing his national team and was lucky enough to play for Germany in the 2016 Summer Olympics – winning a silver medal. On 30th September 2016, Brandt was shortlisted for the Golden Boy Award alongside 39 other bright U21 talents.
Taking into consideration the fact that Brandt has only played for Bayer Leverkusen thus far in his senior career, it’s rather obvious that the young winger is suited to a style of football that his manager Roger Schmidt tries to implement. With many attributes suited to Schmidt’s use of gegenpress, Brandt is a highly regarded player within Leverkusen’s first team, especially with the departure of Son Heung-Min. The German international is typically used to take control of the left flank, and also plays an important role in the fluidity of the attack.
Similar to most wingers, one of the biggest strengths for Brandt as a winger would have to be his overall versatility when playing anywhere in attack. Predominantly a left winger, the German international has more than enough ability to also play as either an attacking midfielder or a right winger role. Consequently, playing on the left flank supports Brandt’s style the most for the reason that when charging down the flank, he has the ability to cut inside the pitch and use his stronger right foot to either take a chance at goal or pick out a good pass.
Surprisingly, another strength for the winger is his overall size. Standing at 6 foot, 1 inch, Brandt certainly poses a threat towards the opposition and is strong enough to win most duels put against him to maintain possession. By linking his speed and dribbling along with his size, it’s no surprise that the German is a big threat when on form. Having the strength to succeed in a duel is one thing, but Brandt also has the speed and technique that can allow him to take control of the left flank.
In addition to this, Brandt’s all round attacking ability is another strength for the talented starlet. With 15 goals at Werkself Neverkusen and 10 goals for Die Mannschaft at a variety of levels, the youngster has proven time and time again just how much of a threat he can be on the pitch. Between the 20th March to 30th April 2016, he also scored in six consecutive Bundesliga matches, becoming the youngest player to do so since Gerd Muller.
Unlike most exciting prospects, Brandt is fortunate enough to already have more than enough experience to his name when it comes to playing the sport that he loves. Whilst most starlets struggle to play consistent football at a high level, the German winger is in fact striving off of it, going on to play for Germany at all levels whilst also playing in competitive competitions like the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Albeit accomplished in attack, the same amount of praise cannot be given to the German winger in regards to defending. Across the years, Brandt has seen himself leave his supporting full back exposed as a result of his lack of defensive contribution. This then causes a problem for the left back as a result of the fact that he is left with much more work to do in defence and potentially has to deal with two opposing players when they are attacking. Considering Brandt’s young age, this is not necessarily the biggest issue in the world, but his contribution in defence must be improved upon in the near future.
Additionally, another weakness for the winger would have to be his heading ability. Whilst not much of a concerning issue, this can cause the occasional problem for Brandt as it makes him a liability when challenging an opponent in the air. For a team that presses a lot like Bayer Leverkusen, there will be times where a player may have to win back possession from an aerial duel, however, Brandt is a player who is more likely to lose possession should he ever come up to duel in the air.
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