Austrian international forward Karim Onisiwo has completed a winter switch to the Bundesliga, becoming Mainz’s first signing of 2016 in the process. Onisiwo, who in recent times has been at odds with his previous club SV Mattersburg over the validity of his contract, will move to Rheinhessen on a free transfer after the contract was recently deemed invalid by the Austrian authorities.
Onisiwo, 23, can play as both a striker and a winger and should provide competition for Mainz’s already exciting ranks in both positions. At times die Karnevalsverein have had to rely on summer signing Yoshinori Muto’s availability to perhaps an uncomfortable extent, with the Japanese forward having been an ever present in the league thus far. This is largely due to the lack of form of back-up Florian Niederlechner, signed from Heidenheim in the summer, and the injury troubles of Colombian loanee Jhon Cordoba.
Equally, while the wide positions are not currently an issue for Mainz, it does no harm to add to the already strong ranks of Jairo Samperio, Pablo De Blasis and Christian Clemens. Indeed, Onisiwo has mainly played as a winger for newly promoted Mattersburg in the Austrian Bundesliga this season, having guided them to promotion last year with an impressive return of eighteen goals and ten assists from wide positions.
Mainz manager Christian Heidel told the club’s website that “Onisiwo is a highly gifted player with a rather unusual resume, whose development towards the Austrian national team we have closely watched for some time. He is our next exciting project, a young hungry player to develop into a good Bundesliga player – we see this potential in him”.
Sadly, it seems the relationship with his former employers has soured thanks to the contractual dispute which has been rumbling since the summer. Mattersburg believed to have an option to extend Onisiwo’s contract last summer until 2017, but it appears that this wasn’t the case and Onisiwo was free to leave. He hasn’t wasted any time in doing so, with just a day between the ruling of invalidity and the announcement of his switch to Mainz, and he will meet up with his new colleagues at the beginning of their winter training camp in Marbella.
Mainz shouldn’t have any cause for concern about his contract being invalid: the youngster has signed on until 2019, seemingly out of his own choice. Onisiwo has even ignored reported interest from large Austrian clubs including Red Bull Salzburg, and both Rapid Wien and Austria Wien in his home town. Perhaps the step up to a larger league can lead him on to a bigger role in the Austrian set-up, having been called up by national coach Marcel Koller for the first time in November.
“The talks with coach Martin Schmidt and manager Christian Heidel have been very convincing. I am sure that I can make the next step in my development at Mainz” said Onisiwo upon announcement of the transfer. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the team, the family atmosphere and the strong sense of togetherness in the squad which Julian Baumgartlinger has already told me about”.
It must be said that half a season in Germany, especially alongside national team colleague Julian Baumgartlinger, should aid the youngster greatly in his bid to play at Euro 2016 and for his long term prospects in the Austrian national set-up. Having joined Mainz on a free, it could look like an excellent deal for both sides – but it will surely be a bitter pill for Mattersburg to take, having lost a key member of their squad for nothing.