It’s fair to say that Bayer Leverkusen have turned a corner since the installation of Xabi Alonso as coach earlier in the season with the Werkself players enjoying a new lease of life. They have blossomed tactically under the Spaniard with Jeremie Frimpong one player certainly catching the eye with his consistently high performances.
The right back/ wing back is increasingly being linked with a departure from the Bay Arena this summer with Manchester United regularly appearing as a top suitor. However, such is the admiration of the 22-year-old that Bayern Munich and Barcelona are also now being touted as possible next destinations for the Leverkusen star.
More than just pace
Frimpong’s potential and ability have been widely acknowledged for a long time. From his breakthrough at the Manchester City academy to his successful spell in Scotland with Celtic, Frimpong’s star has been on the gradual rise.
Raw pace has always been a key characteristic of his game, but this season in the Bundesliga has seen him greatly improve other aspects of his game and invite the spotlight to shine on his talents.
Pace is a key factor in Frimpong’s game- there is no getting away from the fact that it’s his number one weapon. This season he currently ranks as the fifth fastest player in the Bundesliga with a recorded speed of 36 km/h. Karim Adeyemi of Dortmund ranks first with 36.65 km/h. In terms of total sprints made, he leads the league with 834.
Frimpong has had 473 touches in the final attacking third, which in terms of defenders puts him third in the entire league only behind Alphonso Davies (503) and Freiburg’s Christian Günter (484). He’s third overall for attempted take-ons (129) and ranks second for successful take-ons (69). He moves the ball well and he moves it effectively. He is someway ahead of Alphonso Davies in terms of progressive carries (132/109).
He has eight goals this season from fullback and has provided six assists. Overall in the Bundesliga he’s the ninth highest at shot-creating actions (86-one ahead of teammate Moussa Diaby). His tally of eight goals is his highest output to date and testament to the much-improved timing of his runs. More than a few of his goals have been simple tap-ins at the far post after his pace and timing have got him into the ideal position.
Right back or right winger?
The way Bayer Leverkusen have set up under Xabi Alonso means that in possession Frimpong on the right and Piero Hincapie on the left act more like wingers when the team are in possession. Frimpong has a particularly strong understanding with Moussa Diaby and the two combine superbly with each other.
We’ve highlighted Frimpong’s attacking skill-set, but what about defending? Dutch national team coach Ronald Koeman recently caused a stir by suggesting the reason Frimpong wasn’t in his plans despite a top season was an inability to defend. He’s made 20 tackles in the defensive third this season (level with Ramy Bensebaini and only four fewer than Alphonso Davies). Often it is his pace that allows him to chase back to make these challenges.
Manchester or Bavaria?
It seems increasingly likely that Leverkusen are going to face incoming bids for Frimpong this summer and the logical ‘next-step’ would indicate a move up. The club have recently announced the signing of new Brazil international Arthur from América Futebol Club for €7 million, which would indicate they are already forward-planning for the potential departure of Frimpong.
Erik ten Hag is reportedly keen on signing Frimpong for United and he would be able to reunite with former youth teammate and pal Jadon Sancho at Old Trafford. The lure of the Premier League will be strong as will the chance to be part of the rebuilding process at the English giants.
However, Bayern Munich could try and tempt the player into extending his stay in the Bundesliga. The loan move of Joao Cancelo would be highly expensive for Bayern to make permanent so Frimpong (at an estimated €35+ million) could be a slightly more economical solution.