The Bundesliga is experiencing one of the brightest periods in its history. A national team with potential, sustainable clubs taking Europe by storm, and of course the young talents coming through from the country. Most of the focus remains on the attacking starlets, thus Frankfurt’s Sebastian Jung goes largely under the radar. His mentality and approach is different, but in terms of quality, he’s right up there.
Sebastian Jung was an integral part of Frankfurt’s promotion-winning side in Armin Veh’s first season. A shift to the second division helped Jung to develop his confidence and mentality, as he avoided the pressure of the Bundesliga. A year after the promotion, Jung remains a key part of Frankfurt’s side, a side that is now realistically chasing the final Champions League spot.
He was 20 when he broke into the first team, at a Frankfurt side that were relegated. Jung made his debut in a 15 minute cameo appearance as a substitute for the experienced Patrick Ochs. The youngster scored his first professional goal that season, making a total of 14 appearances; but it was only the following season that Jung cemented a place. He made more appearances than any other Frankfurt player in their relegation season, a remarkable achievement for a 20-year-old. Relegation, although detrimental to the club, proved to be a positive experience for Jung as he managed to develop his confidence and mature as a player. A regular starting berth followed in the 2.Bundesliga as the side bounced right back up under the guidance of Veh.
Many believe that Jung is deserving of a spot in the German national team as well. Philipp Lahm, however, occupies the position, and he has established himself in the side, not to mention he has also been handed the captaincy. Displacing him is out of the reckoning. But the lack of back-up options give Jung a definite chance of receiving a call-up to Joachim Low’s World Cup squad. His priority this summer however, is with the U-21 side. Jung is a key part of the Rainer Adrion’s side that is off to Israel.
Plenty of young German players have been vital for Frankfurt’s success this season; Jung along with the likes of Kevin Trapp and Sebastian Rode have contributed to Frankfurt’s surprisingly successful campaign. Sebastian Jung has scored 4 goals in his career, with the most recent one being against Hannover at the Commerzbank-Arena in a 3-1 victory.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
Modern football is abundant with fast-paced quick attacking wing-backs. The likes of Philipp Lahm and Dani Alves depend largely on the attacking side of their game. Jung is a more conventional, defensive-minded full-back. He does venture forward in an attempt to create chances, but the fundamental part of his game is his defensive ability.
Jung is a solid defender who has the knowledge and understanding to better read the game. The left side of the opposition’s midfield is often kept quiet through Jung’s activity. His solid defensive ability is assisted by his consistent marking, and equally important- his positioning. Young footballer’s are often radical in defensive roles and lack the basic understanding of the game. Sebastian on the other hand, is very mature and disciplined in his position, despite being only 22 years old.
What makes him a strong element of the side is his energy and work-rate. Full-backs are required to move forward on occasions, but most are guilty of failing to get back in time. That transition from attack to defence is often lacking. But Jung has managed to master this part of his game as well. He isn’t the quickest, but he is energetic enough to track back and help his side defensively in case of a counter. His energetic nature is also beneficial when the team applies a high-pressing game to prevent attacks from the start. He sticks to his opponent, forcing him backwards or into misplaced passes. For a young defender, Jung is also quite physical; containing the opposition with his sheer strength.
These factors make Jung a decent option even in central defence. His marking ability, confident positioning, reading of the game, and strength provide the management with the opportunity to utilise him as a central defender is the need may arise. But his lack of height proves to be a hindrance to implement such a move. But Armin Veh has found a solution to this problem as well and deployed Jung in a territory where his defensive abilities can be put to maximum use. As seen in Frankfurt’s recent stalemate with Mainz, Jung was played in a defensive midfield role to break up the opposition attacks. A smart move by the manager to bring the best out of Jung’s defending. He offers this versatility, although he hasn’t had too much experience in the midfield role.
Going forward, couple of drawbacks that Jung does possess is his lack of pace (covered though by his energy), and insufficiency of his main attacking avenue- crosses. Jung is inept at floating crosses in, so much so that he almost never does so. Most of his adventures forward result in cut-backs to a team-mate. Thus he isn’t the best full-back going forward and prefers to concentrate on his defending. At 5 ft 1o inches, Jung is a fairly short player, not a problem for a full-back or defensive midfielder. But it prevents him from being a viable option in central defence (despite possessing the required traits), with the obvious issue with headers.
The young German has created 23 goal scoring opportunities so far this campaign, more than double of another young full-back/wing-back in the Bundesliga- David Alaba. He isn’t one for scoring goals, with just the 1 this campaign. He is often seen trying long-balls over-the-top from deep, rather than crosses, with an average accuracy of 78% (at the time of writing).
Sebastian Jung was linked with a rather surprising move to the Serie A with giants, Inter Milan and Roma, both keen on the full-back. Italian teams have been attempting to build young teams with a long-term strategy. The lack of availability of young full-backs would have alerted the Italians of Jung’s existence. The move didn’t materialise, but speculation has been growing throughout the campaign.
Inter’s director of Sport, Piero Ausilio, said this about the German youngster— “Jung is a young lad and I cannot deny that we are tracking him, but that’s a long way from saying we have made decisive steps towards signing him”. This interest was confirmed by Frankfurt’s advisor, Antimo Grillo— “We have long known that Inter rate and follow the player, but to date we have serious negotiations or direct contact with the Nerazzurri.”
Frankfurt are keen on extending his contract but realise they don’t have the power to hold onto their youngsters, after having lost Rode to Bayern Munich. And Jung is aware of interest from Italy, showing his interest in a move to the Serie A— “I have given my willingness to come to Italy, particularly to Roma. The team and city fascinate me a lot. Before, the Giallorossi were the only interested side, now there are other important teams.”
Only time will tell what the future holds for Sebastian Jung. Staying in the Bundesliga may very well be beneficial, but if a big foreign club comes calling, saying no may be impossible for both club and player. Along with Carvajal, Jung is one of the highly rated full-backs, and the latter may well be available for a cut-price this summer.Published 05 May 2013, 00:02 IST