Jeremie Frimpong: Bayer 04’s Unheralded Dutch Talent by Adam Khan

Jeremie Frimpong: Bayer 04’s Unheralded Dutch Talent by Adam Khan

It’s been a tumultuous campaign for Bayer Leverkusen, setting the Bundesliga alight in the opening weeks of the season, before crashing back down to earth after a 5:0 humbling from FC Bayern.

Whilst the defensive fragility of the Peter Bosz era has crept back into the Bay-Arena in past matches, the offensive firepower from the early run-in has remained. With 23 goals Die Werkself have the third most prolific attack of any Bundesliga side, whilst only Olympique Lyon have scored more in the first 4 Europa League matchdays.

The superb duo of Moussa Diaby and Florian Wirtz have earned much of the praise for this attacking efficiency, yet it is another U23 talent whose impressive feats are going all but unnoticed on the continent.

Jeremie Frimpong, a 20-year old fullback brought in last January, has cemented his place in Gerardo Seaone’s first XI. Having started every match of this campaign, it’s high-time we begin to speak of Frimpong in the same vein as some of the most talented young prospects in modern football.

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Though Leverkusen have failed to win any of their last 4 Bundesliga fixtures, Gerardo Seaone’s side remains one of the most exciting projects in the German topflight.

Whereas Peter Bosz was insistent on turning Die Werkself into a possession-oriented outfit, Seaone has been more varied in his approach. In some games, the Swiss manager has retained Bosz’s proactive, ball-oriented, blueprint, but in most games this season Leverkusen have reverted to a reactive, counterattacking, system.

The latter setup is where Frimpong has thrived, with the fullback finding the necessary room to use his tremendous turn of pace. Frimpong has been clocked at a blistering 35.61 km/h this season (Bundest 6th-best), but it is the volume of sprints which is truly eye-catching. With 334 sprints after 11 matchdays, Leverkusen’s right-back is leading the entire Bundesliga, accumulating 5 more sprints than second-best Alphonso Davies, and 10 more than Christopher Nkunku.

Raw speed is one thing, but it’s Frimpong’s ability to turn such talent into true ball progression that separates him from other rapid young fullbacks.

The Dutch under 21 international isn’t shy of beating an opponent or driving possession up the pitch. After 11 matchdays Frimpong has made 89 progressive carries and 35 carries into the final third, metrics for which he sits in third and first in the 2021/22 Bundesliga season.

What this tremendous output shows is the prototype for a modern attacking fullback. Frimpong isn’t just blessed with incredible speed, but is capable of turning it into tangible production in & out of possession.

With a starting position in a Leverkusen side on-course for Champions League qualification, Frimpong is well on his way to international stardom and a place in Louis van Gaal’s World Cup plans. Nevertheless, there are key areas which the former Man City & Celtic youngster needs to improve should he reach the level of a Giovanni van Bronckhorst or Ruud Krol.

His end product is perhaps the most frustrating aspect in his game.

As we highlighted above, Frimpong is extremely adept at getting into dangerous positions and picking out pockets in the final third, but his crossing is often wasteful and imprecise. With 20 completed crosses Frimpong is leading the Leverkusen squad, but his success rate of 39.7% is quite poor for a player of such talent in other areas of the game.

We must also touch on his defensive output, a crucial factor for the success of any fullback in the modern game. 

In a similar fashion to his attacking production, Frimpong is a willing presser, but is far from successful. The Dutch youth international wins possession in just 28.8% of the duels he contests, and is averaging less than 1 tackle per 90 with a win rate of only 47%.

It’s understandable that an offensive asset like Frimpong isn’t leading the defensive metrics in the Bundesliga, but even in comparison to other young fullbacks across Europe he still appears well out of his depth. For example, Alphonso Davies makes more than twice as many tackles per 90 than Jeremie Frimpong, whilst Benjamin Henrichs makes over 4 times as many with a win percentage nearly 20% higher than Frimpong’s.

All in all, Frimpong is an exciting talent who has taken massive steps forward since Gerardo Seoane’s appointment over the summer. With Lars Bender retiring, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah sidelined with injury, Frimpong has grasped his starting opportunity and established himself as Bayer 04’s first choice right-back.

The Dutch youth international is developing into one of the country’s most promising fullbacks, and if he can become more reliable in his attacking output and defensive presence, one can imagine Frimpong earning a call up to Louis van Ghaal’s squad very soon!

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