One of my favourite German words is ‘Eckpfeiler’, meaning cornerstone. When Borussia Mönchengladbach manager Max Eberl stated recently that the club were not going to be selling any of their Eckpfeiler this summer after a highly successful season, he was mainly referring to centre back and huge Eckpfeiler Matthias Ginter.
The fact that rumours of serious interest from Inter, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid were doing the rounds must have had Gladbach fans concerned that Max Eberl’s words were just an attempt to deflect interest in the club’s centre back, but Ginter himself has stressed his intention to remain with the Foals. The importance of this cannot be overstressed in terms of what it means to the club from the Borussia Park.
“Of course, I registered the enquiries and was pleased with the appreciation, but I’ve said often enough how happy I am in Gladbach” Ginter said in an interview with Kicker. “The current side has huge potential and the trainer has added a lot of value to us. The club is in the process of building something up with the great fans and the environment. I have big goals in this and of course still have a contract. I am definitely staying at Gladbach.”
Those words will be like music to the ears to all connected with the club. Ginter, still only 26, has a contract until next summer with the club having the option to extend that to 2022. In all likelihood Max Eberl will be looking to tie Ginter to a longer-term contract in the not-too-distant future.
Since arriving at the club in 2017 from Borussia Dortmund for €17 million, Ginter has become the real ‘Eckpfeiler’ in the Gladbach back four building up an excellent partnership with Nico Elvedi. He has made 102 appearances for the club (matching his tally for BVB) and scored eight goals.
The past season saw the club qualify for the Champions League after appointing Marco Rose, and while the attacking flair of Alassane Plea, Marcus Thuram et al grabbed most of the headlines, the solidity at the back provided by Ginter played a major role too.
He missed just three matches all season notching up 2780 minutes of action. He led the entire Bundesliga for outfield players touches in the defensive third of the pitch (1493) and only Yann Sommer and Lukas Hradecky of the goalkeepers were ahead of him. Of the outfield players he ranked 3rd overall in the league for progressive distance passing (14589 yards) behind David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich. He ranked 7th overall for number of possessions (2506). He also ranked 7th overall for aerial duels won (119) and led Mönchengladbach on clearances with 151.
Speaking back in November just before Germany played Belarus, national team coach Joachim Löw spoke very highly of the centre back saying, “I have the feeling that he’s undervalued by the public. When he’s played with us, he’s always done his job well.
“As a coach, you know what to expect from him. He’s dependable and he’s able to do what we want him to do, which is to help build the play up from the back. He’s improved defensively too. He has a certain calmness about him, which is what makes him so solid, reliable, and dependable”.
These are words that Mönchengladbach fans would certainly reiterate. There are very good reasons clubs of the stature of Inter, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid were putting out the feelers towards Ginter- he is playing at that level and would be a fantastic addition to their defences.
They are however going to be disappointed as the Eckpfeiler is staying put.