Germany have an embarrassment of riches in the final third with Timo Werner, Marco Reus, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz, but Bayer Leverkusen’s Kevin Volland has plundered more goals and assists than any of them in 2019.
We kid you not. The softly-spoken 27-year-old may not earn as many headlines as the aforementioned quartet, but he is quietly outperforming the lot of them.
And while he may have flown under the radar for the wider public, Volland’s contribution has not gone unnoticed by Leverkusen head coach Peter Bosz, who made him captain in the injury-enforced absence of regular skipper Lars Bender.
“Kevin hasn’t only been playing well for one or two games, but has been doing so for a long time,” the Dutch tactician said. “That makes him an important player for us.”
The raw data more than backs him up. Volland has four goals and two assists in the Bundesliga so far this season, meaning he has had a direct hand in exactly half of Leverkusen’s 12 league goals in 2019/20.
For context, only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (11 goals / 0 assists), Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho (3/5) and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Alassane Plea (4/4) have been involved in more Bundesliga goals this term.
And as impressive as Volland’s start to the new campaign is, it is no mere purple patch. The former Hoffenheim forward has been producing the goods consistently all year. In the second half of 2018/19 he registered eight goals and seven assists, meaning he has contributed to 21 league goals in the 2019 calendar year so far.
Watch: Volland was on target in Leverkusen's Matchday 6 destruction of Augsburg
That puts him way out in front of his attacking compatriots. Werner is next in line with 15 (10 goals, five assists), followed by Havertz (13/2), Reus (10/3) and Gnabry (7/5). Meanwhile, Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, who has admittedly missed the majority of the current season through injury, has four goals and three assists this year.
So what is Volland’s cutting edge down to? He has always been a reliable scorer, averaging a goal every three games across more than 220 Bundesliga appearances to date. But his upswing in 2019 has coincided with the arrival of an attack-minded coach in Bosz, who took over from Heiko Herrlich at the start of the year.
“His playing style suits Leverkusen,” Volland said. “We play very attractive football, are good at pressing and have a lot of possession. That makes life tough for the opposition. It’s a system that suits a lot of players in our team.”
Volland is certainly one of them. Naturally left-footed, he is able to play wide on the left in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, or as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1. An expert at executing counter-attacks, 20 of his 71 Bundesliga goals have come on the break, while he is also keeping Lucas Alario out of the side – this a player who orchestrated Argentina’s recent comeback against Germany.
As if all that were not enough, Volland is the only player in the Bundesliga to have scored against every other side currently in the top flight.
As such, Bosz believes his striker’s form and consistency could yet lead to a recall to Joachim Löw’s Germany squad, having last been included in November 2016.
“Things can change,” the Dutchman said earlier this season. “I don’t think the door’s completely closed for him.”
Only time will tell whether or not Bosz is proven right, but in the meantime don’t bet against Volland continuing to outshine his countrymen.