1.FC Köln have just made another transfer coup. Highly-rated center back, Jorge Meré, from Real Sporting de Gijon, has penned a five year contract with the club for a reported transfer fee of €7m. The “FC” have been quite busy in the transfer market this summer, having already secured the signings of Jannes Horn, John Cordoba, and João Queirós, who still remains a myth among fans and experts alike, regarding his propensity as a defender.
Rising up from the second division, to contending with the Bundesliga giants for European places, Köln’s journey in the last five years has been rather spunky. They have already spent €34m in the market.
Jorge Meré Wanted To Join Köln
The Spanish under-20 defender has reportedly turned down a chance to join Malágá in order to join the Bundesliga outfit. La Rosaleda were said to be leading the race to sign Meré, who was also, previously linked with Barcelona and Chelsea. But Köln swooped in successfully for the talented Spanish defender.
Even though he performed really well for his side last season, Meré wasn’t quite able to save Gijon from getting relegated. Sensing his time at El Molinon was coming to an end, the young Meré showed impressive maturity to move to the Bundesliga, a league known for nurturing young and talented footballers, instead of choosing Barcelona or Chelsea and not getting enough starting opportunities.
“I’m really looking forward to Cologne and proving myself in the Bundesliga and the Europa League,” Meré told club’s official website. “It’s a club where young players, can develop themselves. There were plenty of rumors but my aim was always to join Köln,” he confessed in an official statement.
Jörg Schmadtke also praised his club’s latest acquisition, “We have been pursuing Jorge Meré’s development for quite some time. He is far reaching for his age and has been a regular at Gijon for the last two years and has also won the international U21 championship this summer. He will strengthen our defense for sure,” says the FC manager.
A Great Addition for the Billy Goats?
The 20-year old is, without a doubt, a fantastic addition for the Billy Goats.
Or is he?
From what we can surely tell though, is that Meré will join the long list of young Bundesliga starlets. It was no different in Spain either, where he was termed as the successor of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos.
Köln will be preparing for their first ever European campaign in over 25 years, and it’s essential for them to strengthen their defensive unit with more depth. Moreover, the Spaniard comes to the Bundesliga, having already amassed 59 games in Primera Division. Quite a lot of experience for a 20-year old.
But does he suit into the conditions at the Cathedral City?
Effzeh have no less than five central defenders in their roster, if you include the two new signings. Fortunately for Peter Stöger, none of them are useless as is the norm with most of the clubs nowadays. Injuries seem to have stalled the progress of Dominic Maroh as one of Köln’s top defenders, but he still remains a key part of the defense when fully fit.
Frederik Sørensen and Dominique Heintz, are the current pillars of the Effzeh defense. Both the defenders formed a formidable partnership last season, partly a reason why Peter Stöger’s side conceded just 42 goals. For example, Sørensen made the second most defensive actions in the league with 270, bettered only by a former FC defender Mergim Mavraj. Heintz, on the other hand, isn’t far behind with 237 defensive actions, 12th most in the league. The latter has also been a hit with Germany’s Under 21 European Championship campaign about a month ago.
As we are all au courant with Peter Stöger’s gameplan, which is, quite basically, to defend deep. It is quite a simple, yet a very useful philosophy, which makes Köln have one of the sturdiest defenses in Bundesliga. It’s no surprise they are the team with most defensive actions than any top seven teams in the league and third most overall. However, due to the slow nature of the two aforementioned defenders, and also midfielder Matthias Lehmann, Köln doesn’t really have the fiercest pressing schemes in the league.
And that’s where Meré comes into play.
Unlike Heintz and Sørensen, Meré is generally known to be a creative figure in the backline with a decent amount of pace. His love for tackling and aggressiveness in defense will be a huge bonus for Peter Stöger. But most importantly, his creative vision and ability to initiate the play out from the back is what makes him a unique component for the Bundesliga outfit next season. In the last couple of years, Köln have really struggled to find someone who could help the team playing out from the back and act as a classic modern-day center back. It was Salif Sane of Hannover, who was first targeted by the Billygoats and after that, Spurs’ Kevin Wimmer came into the picture but none of the transfer talks proved to be successful.
Where Does Meré Fit in?
Now Meré will have the chance to grow into this role. The Spaniard’s ability in reading the game and opposition movements and the awareness to immediately unleash an opening pass as soon as they win the ball is the exact reason why Köln went all out for the youngster. Peter Stöger did embrace the idea of playing a three/five-man defensive backline for most part of last season. He could apply the same formation this upcoming season with Jorge Meré at either side of defense, preferably at the left, accompanying Dominic Heintz and Frederik Sørensen, thus forming a three-man defensive chain. It could be groundbreaking from a Köln point of view.
We can expect Lukas Klunter to take over the right wingback position from Pawel Olkowski while new signing Jannes Horn will as the left wingback. Mathhias Lehmann guarding the defense in midfield alongside Jonas Hector and either of Milos Jojic and Marco Hoger is a slightly advanced role. This is how the Köln lineup might look like next season.
Three of FC’s four new signings are defenders and it’s clearly evident that coach Peter Stöger wants his side to be more fluidic in defense next season. Also, the narrative of playing the Europa League does have some effect on the overall squad depth so opting for five central defenders isn’t a bad idea at all.
Following the Footsteps?
It’s worth mentioning that Jorge Meré played alongside Jesus Vallejo in the U-21 European Championships. The defensive starlet from Real Madrid caused a sensation in the Bundesliga last season playing for Eintracht Frankfurt. He was one of league’s best defenders.
With the way Marc Bartra is quietly settling into life at Borussia Dortmund, it proves that Spaniards who are usually highly trained in technical aspects of the game, can quickly get used to the Bundesliga. Meré is said to have a same potential as Jesus Vallejo, who thrived even under the management of Niko Kovac. Therefore, there’s absolutely no reason as to why Meré can’t play a leading role under the guidance of Peter Stöger, who always tend to have a suitable plan under his sleeves.
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