A name unknown to many, the Austrian midfielder has been of the bright sparks in a dull Werder Bremen side fighting to stay afloat in the top division.
German media sources over the past week report that top sides Schalke and M nchengladbach are among the many suitors looking to lure a particular Zlatko Junuzovic from Werder Bremen, whose contract runs out this summer. It may not be a marquee signing, but a close inspection of the player’s performance this season will tell you more about why teams are lining up for this Austrian midfielder.
Signed from Austria Wien in January 2012, Junuzovic has since played over 90 games for Werder Bremen, but never the way he has this season. Here is an analysis of his performances, what he brings to the table, and why he deserves to be talked about
An offensive midfielder by trade, Junuzovic has been deployed in multiple roles in midfield in his career. Equally comfortable as a playmaker operating from a deep role, or as a winger looking to cut and shoot, one of his biggest strengths is his versatility.
This season, Junuzovic has served as Werder’s chief goal creator and is the league’s top assist provider behind Wolfsburg’s Kevin de Bruyne, with 7 to his name already. Additionally, he has created 94 chances for his teammates and has had 33 shots at goal this season. Not too bad for a midfielder!
Another noteworthy trait is his contribution in defence. Averaging 3.8 tackles and interceptions per game despite his 69kg 5’6” frame prove that he is not only creator-in-chief, but is also ready to get his hands dirty.
He may not boast of an extraordinary vision or skill, but what he does, he does efficiently. His willingness to work his socks off for the team is a great asset for sometimes, a lethargic team. According to Whoscored.com, he is one of the league’s best performers with a rating of 7.4 this season, a well earned one. His never-say-die attitude has earned him the captain’s armband during the absence of usual Werder captain Sebastian Pr dl.
However, with all this said, his biggest strength is something that deserves a section on it’s own:
The Bundesliga has seen it’s fair share of free kick specialists in the form of Juan Arango, Mario Basler, and more recently Hakan Calhanoglu, but with the way things have gone this season, Zlatko Junuzovic could well be included in this list.
His 4 goals in 2014-15 have all come from direct free kicks, each just as perfectly executed as the previous
Although he is not a natural finisher of the ball, and a little physically underwhelming, Junuzovic compensates with his industry. Also, his discipline has been called into question often as his commitment to tackles has seen him collect five yellow cards already this season. Bayern Munich or Real Madrid may not be looking to snap up the player, but a team like M nchengladbach could be a perfect match for him, and we could possible see him in the Champions League next year.
Since the beginning of 2015, Werder Bremen have climbed the table by 7 positions, despite which the club are still under the threat of relegation.The indispensable Junuzovic could be vital in securing the club’s Bundesliga future, and perhaps again in the following seasons, should he decide to stay at Bremen.
Irrespective of which club he joins this summer, Zlatko Junuzovic has left his impression on the Bundesliga with his consistent performances and some stunning freekicks! He may not be a Lahm or a Schweinsteiger, but nevertheless he has performed when his team has needed him the most.
A truly underrated player.
(All statistics from transfermarkt.de)