When he was signed alongside fellow German Mesüt Ozil after their impressive display under Joachim Löw in South Africa, few would have thought that Khedira would manage to outshine his fellow countryman.
Özil has had trouble adapting to the Spanish way of life, and has had a roller-coaster career with Real Madrid. He sometimes offers displays that prove he is worth every penny Madrid spent on him, and at other times simply disappears from games entirely.
Khedira on the contrary, looks like he is enjoying himself in Spain, and judging by his latest press conference (link to video via El Mundo), he has even gotten pretty good at speaking the local language.
Perhaps in part because of this adaptation, Khedira has become a crucial piece of Madrid’s current setup, particularly in recent weeks. After a resurgence of the thigh injury he had picked up on international duty sidelined him for a few weeks in November, he has returned to top form (via Marca).
He has excellently fulfilled the role of sweeper in midfield, recovering an impressive number of balls for his team. In charge of breaking up play rather than creating it, his role is perhaps not as glamorous as and eye catching as many of his teammates. However, any coach will tell you it is one of the most important roles there is for a football side to control games.
His partnership alongside Xabi Alonso has given its fruits, and because of the Spaniard plays in a similar role, he has paved the way for Khedira to make ventures in attack.
His offensive play is the area where the German has most progressed of late.
Aitor Karanka, Mourinho’s assistant and often the official voice of Real Madrid at press conferences, echoed Khedira’s increasingly important role both defensively and in attacking positions:
"It's nice to see how he plays, how he get into positions up front and how he picks up balls at the back. He is an important player for us,” Karanka pointed out at a press conference (via Goal.com).
“I’m surprised because lately I’ve been getting really positive feedback and the press is speaking highly of me. I always try to do my best for the good of the team and to play as well as I can. We’re all going to try to maintain this level and be consistent,” said Khedira not insensible to the praise he has received of late (via Real Madrid Website).
Last season Khedira got a total of four goals and three assists for Real, over the 42 matches he played with them. This season he is bound to improve this numbers as he has already managed three goals and four assists in just 25 matches. In fact he probably should have beaten his own goal-scoring tally, had he been slightly more clinical in front of goal.
This is clearly the area where the German can still improve vastly and to great effect. Now that he gets into key attacking positions regularly, he has to hone his finishing skill that are, at the moment his Achilles heel (although some will disagree and point to this particular piece of skill).
Perfecting his finishing could boost his season that is already arguably his best season yet for Real Madrid, and could be the best of his entire career.