Will Mainz Loan Help or Destroy Jonas Hofmann's Borussia Dortmund Dream?

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Will Mainz Loan Help or Destroy Jonas Hofmann's Borussia Dortmund Dream?
Michael Probst/Associated Press

Will Jonas Hofmann's loan to Mainz fuel his Borussia Dortmund comeback? Or will his loan lead to an exit from Dortmund next season?

 

Why Mainz?

Amid Dortmund's own Saving Private Ryan campaign (#FreeShinji), which facilitated the return of Shinji KagawaHofmann's loan to Mainz was buried. 

"The Borussia Dortmund chapter is close to my heart and far from closed," Hofmann said, per Dortmund's official website. "It's really important to me that I get match practice at an ambitious and emotional club BVB are on friendly terms with."

Credit: Bundesliga.com
Credit: Bundesliga.com

Mainz's record of signing players from Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been more miss than hit. 

  • Julian Koch (2013): has never been the same since his cruciate ligament tear. Injuries and consequently lack of match fitness is why he watches on as Johannes Geis stars in Mainz's midfield. 
  • Mohamed Zidan (2012): arrived at Mainz (for the third time) looking down and out but seemingly rescued his career with a six-game scoring streak. Like Lou BegaZidan's success was short and sweet. Will forever rue his decision to leave Mainz (again) as he is going through a life crisis, per Omar Zaazou at Ahram Online.
  • Delron Buckley (2009): scored one goal from 11 games. 

Though the overriding positive aspect of Hofmann's loan to Mainz is manager Kasper Hjulmand has a quandary in the right-wing slot.

  • Christoph Moritz: technically brilliant and a hard worker. However, his playing style is more suited to central midfield. 
  • Jairo Samperio: skillful, pacey and will take on players but has struggled with consistency. Has never scored and created a combined 10 goals or more in league play. 
  • Sami Allagui: great eye for goal and was Hertha Berlin's second top scorer (nine) in the Bundesliga behind Adrian Ramos (16; now with Dortmund) last season.

Hofmann will be on a level playing field with Jairo as both were signed in the past days. 

However, Allagui has an advantage.

He is familiar with Mainz, having played two seasons at the club, and will be aiming to have a Zidan-like impact. 

What does Hjulmand see in Hofmann?

 

Scouting Hofmann

Hofmann is a 22-year-old, 5'9", 170-pound German who can operate across midfield. 

His movement off the ball and his productivity in limited minutes should guarantee him having a career in the Bundesliga post-Dortmund, unlike Marc-Andre Kruska.

Anticipating then-Dortmund (now Bayern Munich) centre-forward Robert Lewandowski's pass, Hofmann halted his run to stay onside.

He skirted around then-Augsburg (now Hamburg) left-back Matthias Ostrzolek and squared the ball to then-Dortmund (now Hertha Berlin) centre-forward Julian Schieber.

If you swapped out Hofmann for Ciro Immobile, the Italian international would have been flagged offside.

Breaking free against FreiburgHofmann showed impeccable control and dinked the ball to Lewandowski.

Pirouetting away from Emanuel Pogatetz's pressure, Hofmann slipped the ball between the then-Nurnberg centre-back's legs to play in Dortmund central attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Advancing the ball into Stuttgart's defensive half, Hofmann's through ball found Dortmund deep-lying forward Marco Reus

Hofmann flashes scoring potential, as evident with confident finishes against Bayern Munich and Eintracht Braunschweig

What will hold Hofmann back is:

  • Inexperience; only one top-flight season as a regular. 
  • Pigeon-holed into a super-sub role, is Hofmann ready to be a week in, week out starter? 

 

Bottom Line

Aside from Hofmann being an outstanding young player, Hjulmand may have also decided to lessen Geis' creative workload.

Geis, a commanding, 21-year-old German midfielder, led Mainz in tackles per game (3.0), key passes per game (2.1), passes per game (48.3) and was tied for most assists (five) last season). 

Two games into this season, Geis is already Mainz's primary creative outlet. 

Hjulmand wants to avoid the strategy of Geis or bust.

The addition of Hofmann supplements Benfica loanee Filip Djuricic, who is at his best in a free-roaming role.

With no undisputed starter on the right wing, Hofmann has a realistic chance of winning the starting job.

Dortmund management are in a strong position:

  • Extended Hofmann's contract until 2018.
  • If Hofmann has a productive season for Mainz (five goals and nine assists), he returns to Dortmund as an elite player. 
  • Should Hofmann be inconsistent but flash moments of world-class play, a club could be tempted to submit a sizeable bid (Premier League teams love to gamble).

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.

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