Monday, January 24, 2022

Zakaria to leave Borussia Monchengladbach amid links with Bayern, Barcelona

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Dec 2021

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Borussia Monchengladbach have confirmed Denis Zakaria will leave the club at the end of the season.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Germany international Matthias Ginter revealed on Instagram that he will be letting his contract expire in 2022.

Switzerland international Zakaria has been with the club since joining from Young Boys in 2017 and has largely been a regular throughout his time with Die Fohlen.

The 25-year-old defensive midfielder, who can also play at centre-back, has been linked with several of the world’s biggest clubs, such as fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Barcelona and Juventus.

While no club has yet emerged as the favourite to land Zakaria, he has at least provided clarity to Gladbach as he prepares to enter the final six months of his contract.

A statement on Gladbach’s website read: “Denis Zakaria… has informed Borussia that he would like to leave the club after five years in the summer.”

Sporting director Max Eberl expressed his satisfaction with having matters resolved ahead of the second half of the season, with Gladbach languishing just two points above the bottom three at the halfway stage.

“I told the boys in no uncertain terms that I would like everything that has nothing to do with Borussia and the second half of the season to be clarified by the end of this year,” Eberl said.

“I want everyone to focus on the club, the second half of the season and this situation. The players should use the next few days to clarify their concerns left and right, and we will also make a few decisions so that we can start preparing for the second half of the season cleanly and clearly.”

Like Ginter, Zakaria will be able to begin negotiating with other clubs once he enters the final six months of his contract – which expires on June 30 – later this week.

Whoever lands Zakaria will be adding a potentially formidable option to their midfield.

Nominally a defensive midfielder, Zakaria sees plenty of the ball and is good with his distribution: he averages 52.3 passes every 90 minutes and 47.1 successful ones, the latter being the ninth-most this season among Bundesliga midfielders with at least 500 minutes played.

He is just as comfortable carrying the ball, however.

Among the same group of players, only seven average more than his two successful dribbles every 90 minutes – all of those are more attack-minded players, such as Jamal Musiala, Christopher Nkunku, Jude Bellingham and Florian Wirtz.

When compared only with players who generally occupy central or defensive midfield roles, Zakaria comes out on top for total carries (208), and is well clear in terms of carry distance, his 2,407.3 metres being 400 metres more than anyone else.

He has also progressed the ball further up the pitch (1,227m) than any other comparable player, with Suat Serdar the only other similar midfielder to surpass 1,000m, highlighting his importance to getting Gladbach on the front foot.

While Zakaria is helped in these metrics by the fact he has played at centre-back this season, that does only account for a short amount of time in the grand scheme.

Gladbach are having a poor season, but Zakaria is managing to show his strengths.

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