Another hugely talented Bundesliga youngster emerging is not really news anymore with Germany’s top division regularly churning out teenage talent from its seemingly endless conveyor belt. The latest name attracting attention from the ‘big boys’ abroad is Hertha Berlin’s Lazar Samardzic. This one however looks ready to live up to the hype.
Just because press reports have been linking the likes of Barcelona, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid to the 18-year-old, it is not a given that he will make it to the top, but to those in the know, the Berlin-born creative midfielder is the real deal.
What’s the big deal?
Samardzic, who is of Serbian heritage, is just the latest in a long line of young talent to emerge from the Berlin academy as part of the so-called ‘Golden Generation’. Names like Luca Netz, Jessic Ngankam, Marton Dardai and Julian Albrecht are all coming through at the Olympiastadion, but the attacking midfielder looks to be the cream of the crop.
In 2019 he won the Fritz Walter Medal (U-17 bronze) handed out to Germany’s most talented teenager. While not a guarantee of future stardom, the fact that previous winners of that age group include Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt and Timo Werner is a good indicator that the judges know what they are talking about.
This season, he has made 17 appearances for the Hertha U-19 side and scored 15 goals in the process adding 9 assists- not bad for a player playing in the number 10 role rather than up front as a striker. He has also represented the German U-19 national team six times scoring twice
The left-footed playmaker is highly gifted technically, has great set-piece ability, and excels in playing precision passes through to the strikers. He has been called a ‘Käfigkicker’ in Germany, which translates as a ‘cage footballer’ after the small six-a-side pitches found in the inner city. He works excellently in tight spaces as a result.
His performances for the U-19’s earned him a call-up to the Hertha BSC II side in the Regionalliga-Nordost, where he’s made five appearances and scored once.
While in temporary control of Hertha this season Alexander Nouri was full of praise for the youngster. “He is a really exciting player who awakes our imagination. A full-service player with good spatial awareness and peripheral vision. His passes always find teammates in space and he reminds me a little of Max Kruse.
“If he can improve his defence and collect more experience, he can make the next step. I am convinced that in the near future he will make the jump to the first-team.”
That jump was duly taken on Friday in the 4-0 Berlin-derby victory over Union, when the 18-year-old was introduced as an 81st minute substitute for Per Skjelbred. Now Hertha face the challenge of keeping the youngster at the club by fending off the vultures, who are circling looking to prise away their talent.
Milan are reported to have already made an offer for Samardzic during the negotiations that brought striker Krzysztof Piatek to Berlin and are prepared to renew their interest. If the project Lars Windhorst is seeking to get off the ground at Hertha is to succeed, then home-grown talent like Samardzic needs to be groomed alongside the big-money signing being touted.
He is definitely one for the future, but just where that future lies remains to be seen.