The transfer of Marko Marin to Chelsea was unique in the sense that it was in sharp contrast to the usual hype and speculation of your typical Chelsea.F.C signing. There have only been murmurs in the past about a move to Chelsea, when Marin was expected to be the ‘German Messi’ by the media, but the murmurs (read, wishful thinking) died down even before they had gathered momentum.
The club’s historic victory against F.C.Barcelona at the Camp Nou had barely sunk in when four days later, on the 28th of April 2012, it was announced on the official Chelsea website that Marin had agreed to sign for the club. It was as if the 23 year old German winger had tricked his way back into the collective conscience of a footballing world that had almost forgotten him.
Marin is Bosnian by birth. His parents migrated to Germany when he was just two years old and young Marko grew up in Frankfurt playing his youth football for local clubs SG High and Concord, before he ultimately signed for Eintracht Frankfurt. But it wasn’t until he started playing for Borussia Monchengladbach that people started taking notice. He was signed for a paltry sum of just 20,000 Euros and was offered a three year professional deal after only a year with the youth team. Thereafter Marin started to impress at the Reserves level. The then manager at Monchengladbach, Jupp Heynckes had seen enough and decided to straightaway thrust his 5ft 7inch winger into the thick of things.
Marko Marin delivered and as he did, earned rave reviews from the press and supporters alike. He finished the 2008/09 season with 7 goals and 10 assists. This is the point where the hype began around Europe about a winger who wasn’t the archetypical German wide player. He provided more flair as opposed to discipline, more dribbling as opposed to efficiency and was puny rather than typically tall in appearance. Ergo, the comparisons to Lionel Messi started.
It would appear that Werder Bremen were preparing for the departure of their best player, Mesut Ozil sooner or later, and invested a reported 8.5m Euros to bring Marin to Weser Stadion. The transfer provided Bremen with a highly potent attacking force comprising of Ozil, Aaron Hunt and Marko Marin. Playing on his preferred left forward position, Marko Marin helped Bremen finish third in the Bundesliga, bagging 6 goals and 14 assists in all competitions for himself on the way. He was then chosen as part of Joachim Low’s German World Cup squad and managed to get on twice from the bench against Australia and Serbia. Marin however, couldn’t manage to break into a fiercely competitive German Squad. His teammate Mesut Ozil on the other hand, had a spectacular World Cup and La Liga giants Real Madrid wasted no time in snapping him up.
With Werder Bremen’s key player lost, the onus was now upon Marin to create and he was moved into a central position behind the striker. Due to his size and style, Marin wasn’t as effective as he used to be, playing down the centre of the pitch. Despite the perceived drop in general performances due to a switch in position, his statistical output wasn’t diminished during his second season at Bremen. The stats would read 4 goals and 9 assists, which is only a marginal drop in comparison to his first season. However, football is about what a player does throughout the 90 minutes.
While Marin lit up the place with moments of inspiration every now and then, his overall performances weren’t convincing enough and his stock dropped. He made just 16 appearances for Werder Bremen last season due to various injury related problems and ended the season with just a goal and 5 assists. Needless to say, he was dropped from the German team and did not even make the final 23-man squad flying to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012. It is why eyebrows were raised when Chelsea paid a reported 6.5m pounds to sign him from Werder Bremen. This isn’t a player who is on the rise but is very much a player who seems to be caught in a temporary decline of sorts. Keyword being – Temporary. And we shall see why.
One of the most obvious qualities of Marin is the fact that he is comfortably two footed. It could be argued that this was a factor behind Bremen’s decision to play him centrally. He can pass, cross and shoot with both his feet, although he prefers taking set pieces with his right foot. Marin is quick, but his pace is different to that of a player like Ramires’ who can cover vast amounts of ground while maintaining a steady pace. Marin’s pace is best used over shorter distances and in bursts. He has good initial acceleration and can dribble while changing directions at a fairly high speed. This, coupled with his not so tall stature, makes it extremely difficult for a defender to tackle him. He has a good first touch and the vision to spot through balls, which explains his usually consistent assist count. A certain Mr.Fernando Torres might enjoy making the runs that he normally does in between defenders with Marin trying to provide for him.
While his height is a strength in some ways, at top level football, it is also a weakness. Marin will initially find it difficult to adapt to more lenient refereeing, (than in Germany) and an intensely physical style of play in England. Even in Germany, he has been branded by certain sections of watchers as a diver. There will be a few whispers about that every time he goes down. Being small, his aerial weakness is obvious if one must make that an expectation of him. Also like Juan Mata, Marin is not the best of tacklers. Considering Chelsea.F.C’s obsession with defensive stability, Marko Marin will have to convince of his tactical intelligence and co-operation in order to fit in. His decision making can be erratic. At times he has been accused of taking the harder option than a relatively simpler one. Should he control his impulses and play a more measured game, his assists count could improve further. In Marin’s case an overall improvement can certainly be expected should he get back to playing in his preferred wide position, where he will get more space to work with.
EXPECTATIONS FROM THE GERMAN WINGER
In his debut season at Chelsea, one can expect Marko Marin to hold down to a regular spot on the bench initially. A fresh Marin coming off the bench at about the 60th or the 70th minute is the kind of option Chelsea would relish having and he definitely has the necessary tools in him to make an impact as a super-sub or maybe even as a surprise starter if required. ‘At his best’, Marin has the talent to get into the starting XI at Chelsea, but he will have to fight for his spot. He would have to bring in a certain amount of maturity to his game both in attack and defence, if he must convert all of his potential into something tangible.
It is in essence, a ‘smart’ signing for Chelsea. Marko Marin is a player who is only 23 years old with considerable playing age ahead of him and he is hungry to prove himself. The 6.5m pound price puts less pressure on the club and more importantly, upon the player. Even if Marin isn’t an instant success, he promises to excite the supporters with many moments of genuine magic thanks to his skill set. And should he make any discernible impact upon arrival, this transfer would be looked back at as a reference point of sorts – As the gamble that worked wonders. Good luck to the player.
Catch a glimpse of what he can do – Here.