Hoffenheim added more quality to their engine room with the signing of Mali international Diadie Samassekou in 2019. The holding midfielder, a multiple Austrian champion with Salzburg, is now making his presence his felt in the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com fills you in on the man from Bamako…
Position: Central midfielder
Country: Mali (22 caps/one goal)
Samassekou started out at the Jean-Marc Guillou academy and Real Bamako before moving to Europe at the age of 19 after helping Mali to finish third at the U20 World Cup in the summer of 2015. He signed for Salzburg in August 2015 and initially played for their feeder club Liefering in the Austrian second division. The 5'8" athletic midfielder made his debut for Salzburg in July 2016, and would go on to win three successive league titles and the Austrian Cup twice in his three years as a first-team regular.
Samassekou also played 24 UEFA Europa League matches over two seasons, helping his team to the semi-finals in 2017/18 and the last 16 in 2018/19. Mali's Player of the Year for 2017 featured in sides that beat Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 in 2017/18 and that won home and away against RB Leipzig in the group stage a year later. At the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations he helped Mali top their group with a goal direct from a corner kick against Tunisia before they suffered a narrow loss to the Ivory Coast in the last 16. Having joined Hoffenheim in August 2019, he soon showed he belonged. He made 31 league starts in his second season in German football and finally got his first Bundesliga goal in November 2021 in a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig.
Plays a bit like: N’Golo Kante
Samassekou grew up idolising attacking players but developed instead into an accomplished defensive operator. He breaks up play at the base of the midfield with some smart tackling in the often high-energy style of Chelsea and France World Cup winner N’Golo Kante. The 25-year-old seldom scores goals, but he has a good touch and more often than not looks to play the ball forward. His eye for a pass is also reminiscent of one of his role models and fellow countrymen - the former Barcelona and Roma holding midfielder Seydou Keita.
Did you know?
Samassekou was the fourth member of Salzburg's double-winning side from 2018/19 to leave Austria for the Bundesliga the following close season. Stefan Lainer followed former Salzburg coach Marco Rose to Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Hannes Wolf moved to Leipzig and Xaver Schlager is now at Wolfsburg. In January 2019, Samassekou's old club colleague and current midfield partner with Mali, Amadou Haidara, also moved from Austria to Germany when he signed up with Leipzig. French defender Dayot Upamecano, currently at Bayern Munich after initially moving to Leipzig, is another of his former Salzburg teammates.
What they’re saying:
"When I was young, it was [Samuel] Eto'o, then it was Ronaldinho, [Andres] Iniesta and [Wayne] Rooney. But my biggest idol is Cristiano Ronaldo. In Mali, like everyone, it was Seydou Keita and Mahamadou Diarra." – Samassekou telling France Football about his footballing idols, who include compatriots such as Keita and former Real Madrid defensive midfielder Diarra
"He has enormous potential and, despite his age, can already look back on a wealth of international experience." - Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen
"Outstanding young midfielder in a team of promising players." - UEFA's technical observers on why they named Samassekou in their 18-man Europa League squad of the season for 2017/18.
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