Marko Marin – The journey of a forgotten talent

The 2009/10 season was truly a smashing year for Werder Bremen, and Marko Marin in particular. With a last gasp sprint to the finish line, the Green and Whites managed to get past Bayer Leverkusen in the standings, securing the Bundesliga’s final Champions League place ahead of the 2010/11 season.

The tiny technician, Marin, arrived at the Weserstadion at the start of the season after Werder decided to spend 8.2 million Euros in order to secure his transfer from Gladbach to Bremen. Marin had no trouble adjusting to his new surroundings at first, forming a splendid midfield trio together with Mesut Özil and Aaron Hunt behind the prolific striker Claudio Pizarro.

By the end of the season, the Green and Whites managed to score 71 goals with Marin providing four goals and 14 assists. Marin’s elegance, drive towards goal, and his agility made him one of the main attractions for Werder Bremen that season. The German football bible kicker rewarded Marin with the best marks out of all the Werder players who had been on the pitch that season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0ycwCHzrGg
Here are some of the best scenes Marin had during the 2009/10 season.

National team coach Jogi Löw rewarded the efforts of the Werder attack by bringing both Özil and Marin along to the World Cup in South Africa.

However, from here on out, the paths of the two players developed in very different directions. Marin made two appearances as a sub during the group stages and didn’t take his chance, whilst Mesut Özil overnight reached international fame due to his performance in the tournament.

Werder’s magic trio of dwarves was reduced to being a duo after Özil decided to leave for Real Madrid, and both Aaron Hunt and Marko Marin found it hard to follow up their good form from 2010/11 in the following two seasons. The former Gladbach player was at times playing in the hole behind the strikers, a role which he himself didn’t find to his liking. 3 goals and 11 assists were a decent return though and Marin was one of the better players in a side struggling to get out of the relegation battle. The following season saw the player who was once named “the German Messi” struggle with injury for large chunks of the season, and in the end a measly goal and only 5 assists meant that Marin hadn’t lived up to the expectations of most of the Werder fans.

An ill-fated move

Werder Bremen turned from a side qualifying for the Champions League almost every season into a sinking ship during Marin’s last two seasons at the club. In order to get back on track and to generate some much needed transfer revenue for the Green and Whites, a transfer was on the cards for Marin after the 2011/12 season. Surprisingly enough, Chelsea showed considerable interest and in the end it was the Blues who managed to purchase the player for 8 million Euros. As a sign of appreciation after he had signed for the club, Marin was even invited along to witness Chelsea’s very fortunate win of the Champions League in the final in Munich that year.

Right from the start, some pundits wondered whether or not the player would find it difficult to adjust to the quick and physical playing style of the Premier League. Marin himself regarded the move as a challenge, stating that he could only become a better footballer being surrounded by that many great players.

Injury troubles at the start of the season meant that Marin couldn’t make his competitive debut before the 25th of September in 2012. The player would have to wait until November before he could make his debut in the Premier League. After his first season at Stamford Bridge, Marin was only given playing time in 6 of Chelsea’s 38 matches in the league(only starting in 2 of those).

Turning into a loan soldier

Neither Chelsea nor the player himself could be particularly happy about Marin’s first season in England, and a loan move allowing Marin to gather some playing time was the best option for both parties concerned. After joining FC Sevilla, Marin was given the chance to play in 7 of the first 8 matches of 2013/14 La Liga season. However, after an injury had kept him out of the team for several weeks, it took until match day 28 before Marin would make his next start. His stats for the Europa League campaign that season were slightly better, as he only missed 6 of the 17 matches during Sevilla’s cup winning run in the competition.

On balance, Sevilla decided that a move would be best for Marin, who was loaned to Fiorentina in Italy. Coach Vincenzo Montella may have made headlines in Germany for his comments regarding the performance of Mario Gomez, however, the former Gladbach and Werder player was worse off than his former teammate from the German national team. After the first half a year at the club, Marin hadn’t featured in any league games for the Viola. The only playing time that was handed to Marin were 4 appearances in the Europa League (which saw him score 2 goals).

The next chapter: RSC Anderlecht

Today it became clear that Marin is going to leave Fiorentina, leaving Italy all together in order to join Belgian outfit Anderlecht. Obviously the step into Belgian football at the age of 25 is a step backwards for a player who has been employed by clubs in all off Europe’s top four leagues.

Four years ago, Marin was considered to be one of the many talents coming through in the Bundesliga. After the World Cup in 2010, he had already competed in 16 internationals for the German national team, but ever since his career has gone downhill at a far too early age. It might just be the fact that Marin was at the wrong place at the wrong time, when Werder started to get into trouble. The move to the Premier League may have been financially attractive, but the challenge of making it at Chelsea was always going to be overwhelming.

After trying to find his way during two loan spells at clubs which weren’t fully committed to giving him a chance in their starting line-ups, he’ll now hopefully once again get the chance to play football. Those who followed Werder Bremen during that 2009/10 campaign remember how well Marin could link up with the players around, the elegance and panache he would bring to the pitch and how much danger he could cause.

Not even the biggest optimists would give the 25-year-old a popsicle’s chance in hell to get back into the German national team, but it would nice if the talents of a player who has won the Under 17 Fritz Walter medal in silver and the Under 18 Fritz Walter medal in gold put to good use.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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