Rumours that Borussia Mönchengladbach defender Nico Elvedi is on the wanted list of high-profile clubs like Arsenal and Bayern Munich may come as a surprise to some. Delve a little deeper and it soon becomes clear why the Swiss centre back is much sought after.
With Gladbach battling at the top of the Bundesliga table going into the final eight matches of the season, much of the credit for their success has gone to the headline grabbing forwards Alassane Plea, Marcus Thuram and Breel Embolo as well as midfielders Denis Zakaria, Kevin Strobl and Florian Neuhaus.
As so often in life it is the quiet ones you need to watch and much of the Foals success this season can be ascribed to their back line. Yann Sommer has provided a top-class last line of defence, while fullbacks Ramy Bensebaini and Stefan Lainer have impressed hugely since their arrivals. Mathias Ginter has once more provided the heart of the defensive line.
A little under the radar, due mainly to the fact that his performances have been so consistent for so long, has been 23-year-old Elvedi. I say under the radar, but with Arsenal and Bayern sniffing around, obviously not that far under the radar.
It seems that Elvedi has been at the club forever, but he is still just 23. Having broken into the FC Zürich side in 2014 aged just 17, he was signed by Mönchengladbach for €4 million a year later. He was handed his starting debut in a baptism of fire by André Schubert against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich (a 3-1 win), and hasn’t looked back since, becoming a cornerstone of the Foals back line under first Schubert, then Dieter Hecking and now Marco Rose.
In an interview with Bundesliga.com Elvedi outlined the impact all his trainers at Gladbach had had on him. “I’d say that every coach is different. Lucien Favre brought me here in the first place, but unfortunately, I only played under him for three months. I established myself in the team under Andre Schubert, he gave me lots of minutes and I became a regular starter.
“Dieter Hecking transformed me into a central defender. I consider that to be the perfect position for me. And now with Rose, it’s something different again – he has different advice. Every coach has their own strengths.”
Elvedi has (to date) notched up 134 Bundesliga appearances for the club over five seasons and has 17 international caps
On the radar
Mönchengladbach have been somewhat of a surprise package this season under new trainer Marco Rose and are still in with a mathematical chance of claiming their first league title since the glory days of 1977. More likely will be a place in next season’s Champions League, and should that be achieved, a large part of the credit will go to the defence.
Gladbach currently have the second tightest back line in the Bundesliga with just 31 goals conceded. As mentioned before, Elvedi at the heart of that defence alongside Ginter, Bensebaini et al has been key.
Elvedi has a hugely impressive pass completion rate of 91.4% this season, which puts him fifth in the entire Bundesliga. This figure rises to 92.3% when you look at long passes (over 25 yards). He has made 59 interceptions (ranked 2nd in the league behind Schalke’s Omar Mascarell) and 113 clearances. He has made 39 tackles in the defensive third (ranked 4th highest in the Bundesliga) and has great stats in terms of defensive pressures. 42.7% (ranked 3rd in Bundesliga) of his defensive pressures have led to his side gaining possession within five seconds of his action.
He stands up very well if you compare him to all centre backs in Europe’s top five leagues. He’s in the 99th percentile for long pass completion, the 95th percentile for overall pass completion and the 92nd percentile for interceptions.
So, in a nutshell Elvedi is a superb passer from the back, who reads the games superbly and could be employed in a three-man or four-man defensive system with ease. He is young, dynamic and has time on his side to improve further.
Little surprise then that the likes of Arsenal and Bayern are sniffing around.