Dennis Geiger was to former Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann what Thiago Alcantara once was to Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich - but now he's forging his own path. bundesliga.com profiles the Sinsheim club's indispensable young midfielder...
Position: Central midfielder
Country: Germany (U21s, one cap)
Nagelsmann got to know Geiger, who joined Hoffenheim’s youth academy at the age of 11, when he was in charge of the Baden-Württemberg outfit's U19s. The 5'7" right-footed midfielder was integral to Hoffenheim winning the South/Southwest U19 championship for a third year running in 2016, and soon joined the Bundesliga's youngest senior coach in the first team.
Geiger played in the DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League qualifying round, before making his top-flight debut under Nagelsmann on Matchday 1 of the 2017/18 campaign, in a win over Werder Bremen. He scored his first goal on only his fourth Bundesliga appearance - against Schalke - and ended the season with 27 games under his belt, only to have his progress checked by a succession of injures the following year.
Watch: Relive Dennis Geiger's first ever Bundesliga goal!
Geiger had already represented Germany at U15s, 16s, 17s and 19s level, when he earned his first U21 cap in an international friendly against Greece in September 2019. The call-up was reward for a solid and largely injury-free start to the 2019/20 domestic season - his first since Nagelsmann's switch to RB Leipzig. After nine outings, the Hoffenheim No.6 was averaging 2.3 key passes per game, boasted a passing accuracy of 88 per cent and had produced three assists.
Plays a bit like: Joshua Kimmich
Combative, a dab-hand at circulating possession and with an eye for the short and spectacular pass, Geiger has, understandably, been compared to Bayern Munich and Germany terrier, Joshua Kimmich (Kimmich the defensive midfielder as opposed to the right-back, that is). Like Germany's first-choice No.6, he can win the ball high, disrupt the counter-press, hold the ball under pressure and release it at the most opportune moment. He's not frightened to shoot, either.
Did you know?
Geiger's name translates from German into English as 'violinist', which is quite apt given his role as midfield orchestrator in the Hoffenheim and Germany U21 engine room.
"I feel happiest in the No.6 role, where I can affect the game the most," Geiger told Germany's leading sports specialist magazine, kicker. "Everyone at Hoffenheim and in the Gemany U21s knows that, but I don't mind playing No.8, either. It doesn't make much difference to me."
What they're saying
"Dennis is a good lad. My first impressions were one of a polite and shy guy, but in a good way. He's a real live-wire on the pitch. With a few more improvements, he can be like Joshua Kimmich." - Former Hoffenheim striker, Sandro Wagner
"He's comfortable on the ball and has the necessary aggression, and he's not afraid of making tactical fouls either. He's a really cool customer." - Nagelsmann
"Dennis is a really good player, who's taken on a leadership role with the U21s." - Germany coach, Joachim Löw