Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He's the player providing a degree of comfort to those Borussia Dortmund fans upset over Mario Gotze's impending departure to Bayern Munich.  Never fear! Because the 20 year old Leitner is one of an impressive degree of stock available to Jurgen Klopp in midfield, with his emergence promising to brighten the lives of Dortmund's support as much as the yellow shirts they wear on the banks of the River Rhine.

Have to feel for the lad with such talent in front of him?

Just like the Dortmund dream didn't die when Shinji Kagawa left for Manchester United, with talents like Leitner, it won't die when Gotze heads to Munich after Saturday's small matter of the Champions League final. Only 20 and able to control matches from deep, to the extent he has drawn comparison to Bastian Schweinsteiger, he has been handed 10 starts by Klopp this year, as well as a further 19 as a substitute. This is on top of the 17 appearances he made as Dortmund bought home the Bundesliga title in 2011/2012.

His standout performance came in the Champions League at home to Manchester City, where he controlled midfield with composure and energy alongside Ilkay Gundogan.

Klopp certainly has an eye for a talent then doesn't he?

The eccentric 44 year old coach certainly does. After receiving his footballing education Unterfohring on the outskirts of Munich, Leitner joined 1860 Munich after a trial, impressing Klopp in his debut game, a DFB Pokal match against SV Verl. 17 matches later and he was a Dortmund player, now seen as the next big thing and the heir to Sebastian Kehl's defensive midfield spot. Having sad that, Leitner can also play on the wing, given his balance and vision which has allowed him to be involved inn creating a chance every 40 minutes. His slick passing, an 82% pass completion rate, together with a 73% shooting accuracy suggests he is a big threat in the final third.

So why is he being primed for a defensive midfield spot?

VERSATILITY?!!? Isn't that a lovely word? His main game is similar to Gundogan in that he can pass the ball on as well as getting involved with breaking the opposition's possession up, as shown by a huge tackle-success rate of 72%. He stands at a minute 5ft 9, but that doesn't phase him against more imposing players, chasing down the ball like an enthusiastic puppy down in the local park. His technique, control and comfort on the ball allows him to be effective anywhere on the pitch.

What does the future hold?

A possible breakthrough into the Dortmund first team in Gotze Anno Domini, or a loan spell should Klopp find another way of dealing with his loss and deems Leitner not quite good enough, yet. There should be no doubts about Leitner's potential however with him being raised in the same set-up that has produced many of those involved in Saturday's final.

Germany will also reap the benefits of Leitner's ability to cherish the ball and drift into pockets of space with excellent technique and vision. After first appearing for Austria's under-17s, he chose to represent the country of his birth at the same level, scoring a rather potent 7 goals in 8 games. He is now a regular in the much-gifted under-21 team, picking up 9 caps so far.

Not enough!? You can read more about him here

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