Things to know about Felix Uduokhai
Unless you are an avid fan of German football or a staunch supporter of Augsburg, Felix Uduokhai’s name probably means very little to you – but it won’t be for much longer.
The Bundesliga is home to some of the best defenders in the world, with Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Niklas Sule being nurtured to become established superstars of modern gaming.
They may have to make room for the next generation of jewelry, who will not hesitate to leave Germany for new pastures. And Germany’s Augsburg side may be forced to fend off one of the real giants of European football, as Uduokhai, along with Lille defender Sven Botman, has been named as a possible Liverpool transfer target this winter.
But what do we know about Uduokhai? 90 mins gives you a glimpse of Germany’s next rising star.
What kind of central defender is he then? Well, the closest comparison that has been regularly drawn is that of David Alaba. Left-handed center-backs are hard to come by these days, especially in the Bundesliga, but Uduokhai ticks that box well.
He’s also spent time learning his trade as a left-back and midfielder, much like Alaba, but seems more comfortable in the heart of the back line. His days in the midfield have made him extraordinarily calm in possession, which means he’s the perfect center-back on the ball.
Unlike the Bayern star, Uduokhai is an imposing presence in defense, measuring 6’2 – an imposing figure for attackers to face. Unsurprisingly, he has won the most aerial duels for Augsburg this season.
It was not, however, an easy path to becoming a Bundesliga star for Uduokhai. He moved to Munich’s Youth Academy in 1860 at the age of just 11, and was thrown into the depths with the struggling squad as an inexperienced 19-year-old in 2016.
He’s played the full 90 minutes 19 times this season, and his calm and imposing performances have convinced Wolfsburg to bet on the teenager.
He started off brilliantly with Wolves, but then lost his place in the squad. A loan transfer to Augsburg was quickly made permanent in the summer of 2020 after impressing in his new home, and it has only grown stronger since.
He may only be 23, but Uduokhai is already following in rarely trodden footsteps in German football history. He played for Germany at the under-19, 20 and 21 levels and on November 6, 2020 got his first call-up for the senior squad.
This only made him the fourth player in Augsburg history to win an appeal for the German national team while representing the Fuggerstädter.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the chance to step onto the pitch, so he can still decide to play for Nigeria instead, due to his dual nationality.
As mentioned, he is yet to make his debut for the German national team, but the words of encouragement from coach Joachim Low could convince him not to switch allegiance just yet.
Speaking after handing Uduokhai his first appeal, Low trusted the defender and said it was a “reward” for his brilliant form in the 2020/21 campaign.
“We don’t call anyone who we don’t trust to do it,” Low said. “We want to reward players like Hofmann, Neuhaus, Max or Uduokhai for their performances.”
Surely, his senior debut is in sight.
The tall and powerful center-back is a threat in both penalty areas as well, and while he doesn’t regularly find the back of the net on set pieces, he appears with vital goals for club and country.
Uduokhai scored his first goal for Augsburg in their surprise 2-0 win over giants Borussia Dortmund this season, rising to throw a superb header past the goalkeeper.
He was also on the scoresheet against England for the German Under-21 team, appearing to the far post to crush the ball at home in added time, giving the visitors a precious 2-1 victory. The big man for the big occasion.
All of these factors only underscore the fact that Uduokhai is built for the demands of the Premier League. His physical presence, comfort on the ball, and versatility on the pitch make him an exciting prospect for any manager.
And many English clubs will see the Augsburg star as a cheaper alternative to the general idea of splashing money on a gaming superstar, especially at such a difficult time for the football economy.
Coincidentally, these are all key factors that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and sporting director Michael Edwards will analyze in their quest to bolster their exhausted defense. Could Uduokhai be the answer to their prayers in January?