Forget Ante Rebic, Luka Jovic, and Sebastien Haller - Filip Kostic is the real star of the show at Eintracht Frankfurt. bundesliga.com has the career skinny on the Eagles' criminally underrated talisman...
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Left winger
Country: Serbia (32 caps/ two goals)
Behind Rebic, Jovic and Haller, Kostic was the unsung hero of Frankfurt's brush with UEFA Europa League glory in 2018/19. The Serbia international contributed 10 goals and 13 assists in all competitions as the Eagles reached the last four of the tournament, and finished seventh in the Bundesliga, only missing out of the top four by four points.
The aforementioned goalbrokers fled the nest in summer 2019, but keeping Kostic and tying him down to a permanent deal was arguably Frankfurt's best bit of business. The 6'0" left-sided specialist - who can operate as a winger and wing-back - has already set a new single-season personal best with 12 goals and 15 assists across his first 40 first-team outings in 2019/20. No player outside of the top three - Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or RB Leipzig - has produced more Bundesliga assists (nine). He also ranks in the top 10 for challenges won (284), while his 140 crosses from open play is a league best by a country mile, in fact approaching double that of Freiburg left-back Christian Günter (84).
Why VfB Stuttgart and then Hamburg let Kostic go is a mystery. He impressed in his spells at both clubs, producing 17 goals and 20 assists across 128 games, for the most part as a cog in the wheel of two teams mixing it at the wrong end of the standings. Before moving to Germany in summer 2016, he turned heads in Holland with Groningen and his native Serbia with boyhood club Radnicki.
Kostic registered a debut assist for Serbia in an international friendly against Azerbaijan in August 2014, and played in all three of his country's group matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Frankfurt's Mr. Reliable has a total of seven senior international assists to go with his two goals in back-to-back 2018 World Cup qualifiers with the Republic of Ireland and Moldova.
Plays a bit like: Gareth Bale
An athletic left-footed wide player who can score, create, and mucks in defensively: Kostic is unique in his ability to marry attacking and defensive duties without an ounce of protestation. Gareth Bale - the left-back-turned-winger of circa 2012/13 - is probably the closest thing to a modern-day comparison.
Watch: Filip Kostic came back to haunt former club VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 27 of 2018/19
Did you know?
Kostic experienced the heartache of two relegations to Bundesliga 2 in the space of three seasons with Stuttgart and Hamburg, but has never played in Germany's second tier. HSV made the Serbian ace their club record signing following Stuttgart's 17th-placed finish in 2015/16, while Fredi Bobic snapped him up for the second time following the end of the Dinos' top-flight stay two years later.
"I signed Filip at Stuttgart," the current Frankfurt sporting director recalled. "He showcased his extraordinary qualities there and then at Hamburg. We remained in touch, and he acclimatised very well after coming here. He's a quiet and reserved guy, works very hard in training and puts in extra running shifts - he's a top professional."
What they're saying
"I've never understood how people pigeon-holed Filip. They predicted relegation when he came here, but now he's very much in the top drawer." - Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter
"Apparently Filip has bought a new espresso machine that's working wonders. You can't bring him down, he's a mentality monster." - Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp on his teammate's performances in 2019/20