Mainz are becoming used to seeing their best players picked off by richer and bigger clubs and if Yunus Malli keeps playing like he has in the Hinrunde, then the Turkish midfielder could well be the next talent to be lured away from the Coface Arena.
The past few seasons have seen the likes of Andre Schürrle, Johannes Geis and Shinji Okazaki all lured away from the Null-Fünfer, but the Karneval club are going to face a fight to keep Malli on their books based upon his quite stunning form in the Bundesliga Hinrunde.
Followers of the 23-year-old’s development will not have been surprised by the impressive displays witnessed this season as the attacking midfielder has been steadily improving since making his Bundesliga debut back in October 2011. Six goals in last season’s Rückrunde saw him emerge as a key player for Mainz and that form has been built upon this year.
Having begun in the youth teams of Sportfreunden Fasanenhof and VfL Kassel, the son of Turkish parents moved to Borussia Mönchengladbach II where he debuted in the Regionalliga. A move to Mainz in 2011 saw him impress in the Regionalliga West before Thomas Tuchel promoted him to the first team.
Since his bow, each season has seen him make more appearances and score more goals than in the previous one. It has been the current season though that has seen Malli come to the fore with a highly effective Hinrunde, which has seen him net eight goals already.
His display on match day five against Hoffenheim was the pick of the bunch when he almost single-handedly won the game for Mainz with a stunning hat-trick. Those goals took his tally to six in just five games matching the scoring prowess of the likes of Thomas Müller and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9kj2nPTj_M&w=560&h=315]
It is not just his finishing this season that has made more people sit up and take note. His pacey dribbling and willingness to run at defenders makes him hard to stop and has seen him as one of the most fouled of Mainz’s players. He is quick to find gaps in the opposition lines and has been full of confidence as a result of his good start and an obvious good relationship with trainer Martin Schmidt.
While his form and talent have been a bonus for the Bundesliga, the national side have unfortunately lost out despite Malli having been capped at every level from U-17 up to the U-21 side. Indeed the midfielder was part of the German squad at the previous summer’s European Championships in the Czech Republic.
Turkey came calling and unlike Mesut Özil before him, Malli ceded to the lure of his parental heritage and made his full debut for Fatih Terim’s Crescent-Stars in November appearing as a substitute against both Qatar and Greece.
Malli is contracted to Mainz until 2018, but as the Null-Fünfer well know, visiting scouts are keeping tabs on their emerging star and his rising reputation in the Bundesliga will only increase the speculation surrounding his future at the club.
Mainz finished 11th last season, but finished this season’s Hinrunde in 8th. The goals and drive from Yunus Malli have been a huge factor in that and a similar performance in the Rückrunde could see the Rheinland-Pfalz club competing for a Europa League berth come the end of the season.
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