Borussia Dortmund is in a very strange period right now.
After a few years of success while battling among the best clubs from the European continent, the club finds itself in second from bottom in the Bundesliga table after a season-long slump in domestic form, which triggered several changes in the squad. Coach Jürgen Klopp has also had to deal injuries, including a significant one to the virtually irreplaceable Marco Reus.
Over the winter break, help has arrived in the form of Kevin Kampl.
More than three years ago in Leverkusen, Kevin Kampl was a luckless youngster unable to push past famous players such as Michael Ballack and Arturo Vidal, who were dominating in Bayer Leverkusen’s midfield. Kampl, the German-born son of Slovenian parents, signed with VfL Osnabrück, a small club from Germany’s 3.Liga, to earn more playing time.
At Osnabrück, Kampl found that his favorite position on the pitch is not defensive midfielder, but nearer to the opponent’s goalkeeper. He drew the attention of VfR Aalen, who did not hesitate to pay a quarter-million Euros for the services of the man, who would immediately pay dividends by contributing two goals and three assists in his first two performances with the club. Aalen representatives, just a few weeks after buying Kampl, celebrated a quick sale of their new-found jewel with a huge mark-up. Austrian champion Red Bull Salzburg offered an unbelievable fee of three million Euro, and Kampl’s Aalen career was quickly closed.
Red Bull Salzburg had been trying to join the ranks of Europe’s footballing elite, but had consistently been unable to qualify for Champions League’s group stage. Moreover, prior to 2012, there was disorganized leadership within the club. This changed with the arrival of newly-appointed sporting director Ralf Rangnick (former coach at Hoffenheim and Schalke 04). He established a new direction for the ambitious club from Mozart’s City: buy cheap, unknown players — as well as Austria’s best players — and sell them to the biggest European leagues for financial gain.
Salzburg started the current season with great form, confirmed by a huge victory 6-1 over Rapid Vienna. This victory was fueled, in particular, by the great partnership formed by Sadio Mané, Kampl, and Jonathan Soriano. Salzburg used a quick passing game with high-pressing and an emphasis at the counter-attacks.
And it dominated.
Salzburg’s style is very similar to Dortmund’s, so Kampl has an advantage in adapting to his new club. He is extremely hard-working and gets back to help in defense. In attack, he will attract attention not only with his extravagant haircut, but also thanks to incredible speed, ball control, and creativity.
Kampl, a Dortmund fan during his childhood, is similar to Marco Reus in his playing style and offers more variants for Klopp’s starting line-up. When he receives an opportunity to run at opponents on the counterattack, he can be a nightmare for any Bundesliga defender.
When looking at Dortmund situation in attack, with Aubameyang as their most dangerous player (5 goals and 3 assists), a player with Kampl’s finishing quality may prove to be precisely what was needed.
The chance that Dortmund will regret the ten million Euro paid for him is very small, if today’s performance in a friendly in the Netherlands is any indication, as Kampl used his speed to beat the defense of host FC Utrecht and get into position to receive a nice pass from Reus, which he cooly slipped beneath the Utrecht keeper.
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