Borussia Dortmund just completed their Champions League group stage campaign in style, with a convincing 1-0 victory over the English champions Manchester City. The German side displayed incredible mental strength, unbelievable counter attacking ability and moments of individual genius over the course of the group stage.

Their league campaign may not be as flashy and successful but their last two seasons have exposed their phenomenal talent to the world. In all of this, Dortmundai??i??s midfield unit has been hailed by all quarters of the football fraternity and the likes of Sven Bender, Shinji Kagawa, Mario GAi??tze, Ai??lkay GA?ndoAYan and more recently Marco Reus. Even their less flashy players, Kevin GroAYkreutz and Jakub Blaszczykowski, have managed to shine at the club and get the necessary playing time.

In this list of immensely talented midfielders are two players who havenai??i??t managed to shine to their full potential. One of them is Ivan Perisic. The Croatian midfielder came to the Westfalenstadion with a fair amount of hype surrounding him but never truly lived up to it. Last season he failed to challenge GroAYkreutz for a spot on the left flank and has fallen so far back in the pecking order that he barely features in Dortmundai??i??s starting eleven anymore.

DortmundPerisic has expressed his frustration publicly and a move away from North-Rhine Westphalia seems very likely. The other player who hasnai??i??t shone as brightly as he possible could have is the deep lying playmaker Moritz Leitner.

The first major difference between these two fringe players is their age. Although Perisic would be considered a youngster by most clubs in most nations, twenty three isnai??i??t the time to grow and come out of your cocoon at Dortmund. Take a look at Dortmundai??i??s current starting midfield unit. Reus and Bender are 23, GAi??tze just 20, GA?ndoAYan 22 and Kuba 26 years old. Although not the oldest, Perisic is far from as proven as Kuba and nowhere as close to the younger lot in terms of talent. Thus, the fact that Perisic is unable to command a place in the starting lineup shows that he must move to greener pastures to be able to further his career.

But Leitner is the youngest of all the players available to JA?rgen Klopp. At just nineteen, Leitner surely has at least two more years, even by Dortmundai??i??s extreme standards, before he is expected to start regularly for the club and develop into a better footballer.

The second contrasting aspect between the two players is their positions. Perisic is an attacking player who likes to occupy wide positions and cut into the center, much like Kuba and GAi??tze. This means that Perisic is currently fighting for a spot against Reus and GAi??tze, two of Germanyai??i??s most exciting talents, Kuba, the Polish captain and GroAYkreutz, a workhorse whose efforts are almost impossible to replicate.

Mortiz Leitner on the other hand, is a deep lying playmaker, in a similar mould to GA?ndoAYan. Unlike Perisic, Leitner doesnai??i??t have a host of players fighting for the same position. In fact, the ball playing role in the deeper midfield two is contested for only by GA?ndoAYan and Leitner. Injuries are bound to hit GA?ndoAYan and Dortmundai??i??s three-front campaign is going to bring squad rotation into the picture, thereby giving nineteen year old Leitner a chance alongside Bender or Kehl.

The third and final difference between these two talents is their positional versatility. Perisic seems most comfortable only on the left side of the attacking midfield three. This inability to play in alternative positions also hinders his ability to interchange positions in the same manner that GAi??tze, Kuba, Reus and GroAYkreutz do.

Taking a look at Leitner, he seems at ease when partnering a defensive midfielder in a deep midfield position. But on closer inspection he is seen to be fairly comfortable when pushing much higher up the field and playing almost as a central attacking midfielder. This means that Leitner could easily play in place of one of Dortmundai??i??s attacking midfielders when in need.

Perisicai??i??s departure from the Westfalenstadion seems imminent and after all these comparisons, it seems very obvious that Leitner should stay at Dortmund for the time being. Being under Kloppai??i??s wing seems a safe option for Leitner and patience seems to be the key.

But looking at the overflowing talent in Germany, this whole idea of waiting at a club and growing gradually doesnai??i??t seem the brightest option. Take a look at the options available for the German national team to fill in those two deep midfield positions. Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Kroos, NeustAi??dter, GA?ndoAYan, Lars Bender and Sven Bender have all received call-ups to the national team. Amongst this list, only Schweinsteiger could be considered a senior player when compared to Leitner.

In the shadows lie players like Sebastian Rode and Marco HAi??ger, both of whom are a lot more defense minded than Leitner. By staying at Dortmund, Leitner limits his opportunity to showcase his ability on a regular basis and thereby prevent him from pushing for a national team call-up.

At the club level too, Leitner faces a similar problem. He doesnai??i??t directly demand a starting position since GA?ndoAYan has become one of the worldai??i??s best deep-lyingAi??play makers.Ai?? Dortmundai??i??s second side, currently in the 3.Liga, boasts of three players who can all play roles very similar to Leitner.

One of them is Marvin Bakalorz, a 23 year old defensive midfielder. Bakalorz is at that uncomfortable age at Dortmund and is possibly past the stage of pushing for a first team spot. This might seem a little too drastic a statement. With the impending retirement of Kehl in the next few years, Bakalorz might become a useful player in Dortmundai??i??s midfield. Therefore Bakalorz will become a rival to Leitner in that midfield battle.

The other two are almost the same age as Leitner but do not play in the exact same position. Mustafa Amini and Leonardo Bittencourt would fit perfectly in the attacking midfield three but given their flexibility and talent could easily play the GA?ndoAYan/Leitner role. Competition for that position is set to grow stronger and stronger by the season.

Leitnerai??i??s career at Dortmund is by no means as dim looking as that of Ivan Perisic. The German youngster can surely make the midfield role his own but that would depend heavily on what happens to GA?ndoAYan over the next few seasons and the growth of Bakalorz, Bittencourt and Amini.

With so many variables affecting the youngsterai??i??s career and todayai??i??s situation in Germany making things hard for youngsters in such a precarious situation, it seems like a move out of Dortmund might be the healthiest move for Leitner. Success may not follow Leitner but at this stage, all that matters is playing time and the presence of an experienced and mature figure alongside him.

Talking of this departure as a solution would be incomplete without the mention of a few clubs where Leitner could flourish. The first club that pops up is Bayer Leverkusen. Die Werkself do not have a ball player of Leitnerai??i??s quality in midfield. The trio of Bender, Reinartz and Rolfes provide great defensive security but Leitnerai??i??s presence there will add so much more guile and variety. Playing by Rolfesai??i?? side would prove to be greatly comforting and helpful to the development of Leitner.

Werder Bremen is another possibility if Kevin de Bruyne returns to Chelsea in the summer. Although Leitner wouldnai??i??t be used in as deep a position as he currently is, he will have similar freedom to move forward and provide for his attackers. Here too, Aaron Hunt will prove to be the mature partner and Thomas Schaaf will undoubtedly be a perfect father figure for Leitner.

A perfect fit may not be easy to pin point but the two clubs mentioned above will surely be a step forward for Leitner. From the clubai??i??s perspective, his departure will be a big loss but given the oozing talent in their ranks, a better replacement might not be far away. A breakup might be the best way to go for both club and player.

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4 Responses to “Dortmund Isnai??i??t The Place For Moritz Leitner”

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  1. Arnav says:

    Good one, mate!

    In order to fulfill his personal ambition(s)(national dreams etc), maybe Leitner will have to leave BVB. That’s correct from Leitner’s point of view, as mentioned by you precisely. But from BVB’s point of view, I believe Leitner is just too important for them. :)
    BVB has been playing with double pivot for some time now and only seldom (when they want to shut out everything defensively) have they played with Kehl and Bender together. Both these players are rather the defense-minded, through n through holding midfielders.
    But generally Klopp employs one anchor and one deep-lying playmaker and as you have pointed out, Gündoğan is the chosen playmaker for the correct reasons. True, as long Gündoğan is there, Leitner will remain only a second choice one. Presence of Amini makes it tough for Leitner as well. I don’t think Klopp wants to employ Bittencourt in a holding role as Leo was given several run-ins during pre-season on the right flank.
    Last year BVB bowed out from Europe and that did a world of good to them and despite having a paper-thin squad they managed to win a double.
    Playing 3 games in a week’s time will gradually take it’s toll on the players. This year BVB will play more games than they did in last year. Leitner is needed. Gündoğan will soon feel the rigors of it.
    So, even though staying in BVB could hinder his personal growth, I want BVB to keep him :)

  2. Bob Beamer says:

    For god’s sake, Leitner is only 19 years old! Leaving such a great club as Dortmund only because he doesn’t play regularly might be justified for a 29 year old, but when you are 19 years old, why would you demand a starting place? He gets enough playing time to continue his development, and having a head coach like Klopp and such great teammates will do him more good than playing in some backwater club.