With Julian Brandt long deemed the next big thing in German football, it came as no surprise that Borussia Dortmund moved quickly to prise the 23-year-old away from the Bay Arena at the end of the season. The loss of the talented youngster leaves a big hole in the Werkself’s attacking line, but have they found a ready-made replacement in the form of Frenchman Moussa Diaby?
The Prince of Paris
19-year-old Diaby has followed the path of other former Paris St Germain youth starlets (Jean-Kevin Augustin, Dan-Axel Zagadou) and opted to further his career in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen spending €15 million to sign him. Perhaps a sign of the high esteem in which he is held in Paris is the fact that PSG have insisted on receiving 20% of any fee should he be sold on at a later date.
Last season under Thomas Tuchel, the attacking wide man had his breakthrough season having previously had a fruitless loan in Serie A with Crotone. A move to fellow Ligue 1 side Montpellier had been on the cards at the start of last season, but Tuchel believed the player could play a role- even amongst the star names ahead of him in the pecking order in his position- (Neymar and Julian Draxler to name just two).
He made 25 Ligue 1 appearances for the French champions (ten as a starter) scoring twice and laying on 6 assists. He also scored once for PSG in the Coupe de France with a fine individual goal in the round of 16 against US Orléans.
“Moussa Diaby is an extremely fast, technically strong striker whose qualities suit our game down to the ground” sporting director Simon Rolfes told the club website following the signing this week. “Moussa is already very advanced at the age of 19. He’s one of the really big French talents who will find ideal conditions here with us in Leverkusen to develop into an absolutely top player.”
A Different Brand(t)
While the arrival of Diaby to the Rheinland will excite fans, the signing doesn’t provide a like-for-like replacement for the recently departed Julian Brandt. The French teenager is more of an out-and-out winger with dribbling and taking on defenders his forté. If you were to compare him, then both Karim Bellarabi or Leon Bailey would be better examples to use.
Brandt contributed 7 goals and a club high 15 assists last season as the Werkself qualified for the Champions League and it would be very ambitious for fans to expect a repeat performance from Diaby.
So what does the 19-year-old bring to the table?
He has the pace to get past the fullbacks on the outside, but is also skillful at keeping control in tight spaces and wriggle through tight marking (see his goal against Orléans). Diaby has good vision and a nice weight of pass with many of his assists this season coming after beating his opponent for pace before picking out a team mate with an inch perfect delivery.
No doubt Peter Bosz will be rubbing his hands at the arrival of the exciting French talent. The loss of Julian Brandt is a huge one for Bayer, but they may have compensated in no small way with the bargain purchase of this highly rated talent.
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