It happens all the time in football. A youngster bursts onto the scene earning rave reviews and everyone jumps on the bandwagon that we have the next big thing on our hands and we should be expecting earth shattering things from the teenage prodigy. Then, they fade away after disappointingly failing to live up to their early hype.
But in Hamburg’s 17-year-old striker Jann-Fiete Arp do we perhaps have a real gem ready to shine in the coming years?
Well HSV certainly think so having handed him his Bundesliga debut in (of all games) the Nordderby against Werder Bremen on matchday 7. Hs introduction as a second half substitute made him the first player born after the year 2000 to appear in the Bundesliga. Die Rothosen have also tied the young striker to a contract until 2019 in an effort to ward off the vultures that are already circling.
That said, Arp seemingly has his head screwed on regarding his development as a player and is not going to have his head turned by the interest of big clubs.
“It doesn’t make sense to join Chelsea as a 17-year-old,” Arp said in an interview with the Bild zeitung after the London giants reportedly made an offer for the youngster this summer. “You have achieved next to nothing, basically have no experience in pro football. The risk is too high. It would have been nonsense to move abroad.”
So just why are huge clubs like Chelsea (plus Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig) sniffing around after a player of Arp’s tender years?
Well the short answer is talent and goals (lots of them). Arp joined Hamburg’s youth ranks as a 10-year-old in 2010, but really came to prominence with his scoring exploits in the U-17 side where he scored 26 goals in 21 games including two hat tricks and two four-goal hauls.
Goals were not always the trademark of the youngster as he started his fledgling career as a defender owing to his height (1m 84), but he has certainly shown that his future lies in the goal-getting rather than the goal-preventing field.
Last summer he transferred his impressive scoring record to the international stage as Germany reached the semi-finals of the European U-17 Championships. Arp scored a 13 minute hat trick against Bosnia and Herzegovina, finishing the tournament with seven goals.
“He’s performing well on the field, but also off it,” Germany U-17 manager Christian Wück told Kicker after the Euro U-17 tournament. “In terms of his intellect and his character, he is very far ahead in comparison to others of the same age. He stands out in that way.
“I think that as a result he can cope well with the hype around him. After all, Hamburg are already discussing whether he should be brought into the professional squad. He is intelligent and can integrate.”
HSV trainer Markus Gisdol agreed and as mentioned handed him his Bundesliga debut as a late substitute in the Nordderby.
Hot on the heels of that cameo Bundesliga appearance and the summer’s European Championship, Arp found himself whisked away to India, where he captained the German U-17 side in the World Cup for that age group. Goals continued to be the dish of the day as he scored five goals in five games before Germany were knocked-out at the quarter-final stage by Brazil.
The young striker is clearly brimming with talent and has a bright future ahead of him. In July he was awarded the Fritz Walter gold medal for the U-17 group, which has seen Mario Götze, Timo Werner and Leon Goretzka as previous recipients.
“The kid has something. No, actually he has everything. I think he can pave HSV’s way to the top,” said the DFB sporting director and Hamburg legend Horst Hrubesch, who presented Arp with his prize.
Hamburg and Germany will be hoping he is right. Remember the name- Jann-Fiete Arp.
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