By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor
On Monday afternoon, Arsenal fans produced a flurry of Tweets, making the name ‘Thomas Eisfeld’ a trending topic in many locales around the world. Most of these blurbs ended in a question mark: who is he? What can he bring to the Emirates? Is he the next Rosicky, Fabregas, or otherwise?
Truth be told, Eisfeld is hardly better known in his native Germany. At 19, he has yet to appear for any of the German youth national teams, and before his transfer never so much as sat on the bench of the Dortmund senior side: by contrast, at Eisfeld’s age, Mario Gotze and Moritz Leitner had both become regulars in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
There is a reason why Eisfeld has had a relatively slow start compared to many of his Bundesliga colleagues: in late 2009, the player suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage, an injury that posed a significant set-back in his fledgling career.
To his credit, the young attacking midfielder has shown great resolve as he has worked his way back to form. This season he was the second-highest scorer for the BVB U19 team behind Marvin Ducksch, having found the net six times in 12 appearances. And that Eisfeld managed to attract the interest of Arsene Wenger, is in itself, enough to indicate that the player has potential waiting to be tapped.
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER | ARSENAL
Even so, Dortmund have long been prepared for a future without Eisfeld: as youthful depth in similar positions they have in recent months signed 18-year-olds Leonardo Bittencourt and Mustafa Amini. Had he stayed in the Ruhr area, there would have been at least four direct competitors of similar age, plus about half a dozen older players to overcome if he were to earn playing time. Already set back by his previous injury, even if to a competitive, high-profile club, a move was necessary.
Arsenal fans expecting the next Mario Gotze would be wise not to be too hopeful just yet. Eisfeld is a very raw, and entirely unproven player: he is not yet ready for football at the highest level. But he comes with a formidable pedigree, having been raised in one of Germany’s finest youth academies: if given the appropriate nurture, he might blossom into a fine professional footballer.
Ultimately, all parties have something to gain and little to lose in Eisfeld’s transfer. The player had little chance of making a name for himself at Dortmund, and needed a change. Dortmund have lost a potential star, but not one of their very best prospects, and can later claim responsibility for his development if he makes it big. And Arsenal have signed a player who might soon be a star for a modest price of under €500,000. A rare win-win-win scenario.
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