It seems that every year a handful of Bundesliga players start flirting with stardom.
The German elite have built a reputation for being one of the best leagues for young players looking to find their place in the European game, and it is no coincidence that some of the game’s top talent have spent time in Germany.
These days the headlines are dominated by Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Dayot Upamecano, who are all invited to seal successful moves with various European giants, but one player who also deserves your attention is the Stuttgart forward. , Nicolas Gonzalez.
At first glance, his young career does not really skip the paper. The Argentinean moved to Europe in 2018, but he didn’t have much time to adjust to life in a new country. He struggled in 2018/19 as Stuttgart was relegated to second place, but that’s where he found his balance.
In the 2. Bundesliga, Gonzalez exploded. Playing all over the front line, he scored 14 goals and three assists to send Stuttgart back into the top flight, but this time he proved he was ready for the top flight.
Ahead of the Bundesliga winter break, Gonzalez had faced a handful of injuries, while still sitting on four goals and an assist in four starts – a form that has earned ties with Tottenham and Juventus. The 22-year-old has been a vital part of Pellegrino Matarazzo’s young side, helping them find a comfortable place in the table.
On paper Gonzalez is presented as a left winger, but he’s a player who can’t really be limited to one position. It is not uncommon for the 22-year-old to appear on the right wing, but he has done some of his best work as a center forward in recent seasons.
His versatility stems from the broad nature of his skills. Off wide, Gonzalez is a speed demon who likes to take on defenders in one-on-one situations – he averaged almost eight dribbles every 90 minutes in 2. Bundesliga.
As a central creator, he has great positional skills and is able to find space between the lines. He is also endowed with a true predatory instinct that allows him to convert odds at an above average rate.
His bread and butter is finding himself in space and relying on his skills to move his team forward, whether that’s using pace and cunning on a 40-yard run or using vision to slide a single pass behind a defense.
A common criticism of Gonzalez is that he may be depending too much on his left foot. When the odds fall on his right, he is not as reliable as on his left. A particularly terrible failure in December’s 1-0 loss to Wolfsburg evoked both a lack of confidence in his right and a potential lack of focus.
Gonzalez is well aware of this, however. He has made great strides with his weaker foot in recent months, but also knows how to shift his body to ensure the ball lands on his left. This is not a major concern in his game, but something that has been identified as a foul.
Gonzalez has been compared to a handful of different players, which speaks volumes about the extent of his skills.
Comparisons to Argentine and Valencian legend Mario Kempes have been rife since former Gonzalez coach Alfredo Berti first suggested the idea, but similarities were later drawn between the 22-year-old and the great Raul of Real Madrid.
It is Gonzalez’s movement that earns him the most praise. He’s sort of a jack-of-all-trades attacker who can tie the game together and finish things on his own, and now the challenge is to keep doing that on a regular basis.
“He’s got a lot of qualities, but what I like most about him is that he’s a winner,” said Matarazzo (via Stuttgarter Nachrichten). “He wants to win at all costs. He always gives 100% and gets stuck. It is very important to us. ”
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