Borussia Mönchengladbach’s fantastic start to the Bundesliga season has been powered by the goals of summer signing Alassane Plea, the defensive solidity of Mathias Ginter and the inventiveness of Thorgan Hazard. Lying second after eight games, the Fohlen fans are purring with delight. Another reason for their great start and satisfaction has been the form shown by youngster Florian Neuhaus- a quite welcome surprise.
When coach Dieter Hecking submitted his teamsheet for Gladbach’s opening day clash with Bayer Leverkusen, there were a few eyebrows raised. Michael Lang’s injury meant that 18-year-old youngster Louis Jordan Beyer was drafted in at right-back, World Cup winner Christophe Kramer and last season’s star Michael Cuissance were on the bench, with Tobias Strobl and Bundesliga debutant Florian Neuhaus in midfield.
If it was an experiment by Hecking, he was certainly delighted with the results as Borussia came away with a 2-0 win. The relatively unknown Neuhaus was very assured and won the penalty for Jonas Hofmann’s opener. He even earned himself a place in Kicker Sportmagazin’s Team of the Week as a result of his display.
Relatively unknown? Well those with a keen eye on the 2.Bundesliga will have been more than aware of the talent the 21-year-old possesses. Having emerged at 1860 Munich in 2016, Mönchengladbach stepped in to sign him with it clear that die Löwen were not going to be granted a licence for the 3.Liga in the summer of 2017. The decision was taken to immediately loan the midfielder out to second division Fortuna Düsseldorf- a decision that paid off superbly.
Last season as Fortuna won promotion, Neuhaus made 27 appearances scoring 6 goals and providing 3 assists. Speaking to Express following the win over Bayern Munich, BMG trainer Hecking had nothing but praise for Neuhaus’ stint at the Esprit Arena.
“Together with the player, we decided to loan him to Fortuna for a year. I would like to emphasize that he has done excellent work there, Friedhelm Funkel and his coaching staff have also recognized the potential of the boy. However, there was no discussion with Fortuna, it was clear that Florian was coming back.”
Instantly thrust into the Föhlen’s starting XI, Neuhaus has appeared in all eight games so far providing 5 assists. Added to that, he’s set-up nine other scoring opportunities, achieved a pass completion rate of 82%, run 71.85km and taken seven shots himself.
His good early season Bundesliga form has been carried over into the German U-21 side and Neuhaus was instrumental in their recent 2-1 win over Norway, which qualified the junior Mannschaft side for the European Championships next summer in Italy. Indeed the absence of Mo Dahoud from the side wasn’t felt at all with the Mönchengladbach midfielder putting in a highly polished performance.
Dahoud’s decision to withdraw from the squad to concentrate on Dortmund may come back to haunt him, with Neuhaus showing he more than a capable replacement.
His top start to the season has been rewarded with a contract extension to 2022. “Of course I’m glad about the trust here. I’ve signed for Gladbach long-term and that shows the value they have for me, and me for the club. I used my time there [Düsseldorf] and learnt a lot. Düsseldorf was an important stage in my career”.
After a trip to Freiburg on Friday and a midweek DFB Pokal clash with Bayer Leverkusen, Neuhaus will have the chance to come up against his former team mates from Fortuna on matchday 10.
The only thing missing from his game right now are goals, but that’s not through a lack of trying. They will come and during his time at 1860 he showed in spectacular fashion that he knows where the back of the net is. Not that much of an excuse is needed to re-watch his stunning ‘Goal of the Month’ effort from 2016 against Borussia Dortmund’s U-19’s.
Rookie of the season so far? You’d be hard-pushed to find a better candidate.
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