Former USMNT head coach Jürgen Klinsmann believes Wolfsburg's John Brooks has been the best defender in the Bundesliga in 2020/21.
The German legend sat down with bundesliga.com to discuss Americans in the Bundesliga including huge strides taken by Gio Reyna, Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent, with Chris Richards and Matthew Hoppe also taking their opportunities to shine. Klinsmann also discusses the impending arrival of Jesse Marsch at RB Leipzig...
bundesliga.com: What are your thoughts on Josh Sargent's situation at Werder Bremen?
Jürgen Klinsmann: "When you're a striker and you're a part of a relegation battle, it's not something easy because usually, due to fighting for points and for the fact that you might play more defensive than attacking football, it doesn't give you many chances to score. I think Josh Sargent did really well throughout the year. He got his games. I think he has almost 30 games this season. So, he got a lot of minutes in there. He keeps on growing. He is maturing. He scored a couple of good goals. It's a huge learning curve he has gone through this season and I really hope that they stay in the Bundesliga because then, his growth will continue and he will just get stronger and stronger."
Watch: US Bundesliga Stars: A Golden Generation
bundesliga.com: Speaking of U.S. boys in the Bundesliga, numerous USMNT stars have really begun to make names for themselves this season. Who in particular has impressed you most?
Klinsmann: "Well, I think that we're all very impressed by Giovanni Reyna. How he matured, how he developed. He's still super young in a difficult year for Borussia Dortmund. Obviously, there was so much going on. It wasn't easy for anybody because of Covid and how the international competitions will go and then, how the race for the Champions League is going. But I think Giovanni Reyna made a huge step forward this year. Learning constantly. Coming sometimes off the bench but starting a lot of games. He scored beautiful goals. He has something in his game that is very important: that change of pace. He has very, very good technique. He's not nervous at all. He's confident in his own capabilities. It's really fun to watch Giovanni Reyna and I'm curious how he will continue his very, very positive career."
bundesliga.com: And what do you expect from Tyler Adams in the future?
Klinsmann: "Tyler Adams is a little bit similar to Weston McKennie in the role that he is playing. He can play on the side; he can play in the middle. He's so versatile and that makes him so important for RB Leipzig. No doubt about it. I think there are some young players coming through. Some young American players coming through that have gotten their chance, especially in the Bundesliga to get minutes, to get playing time, to get games and that will only help them in their growth. They're all very young still but everything they have achieved in the last two or three years, talking about Tyler Adams and a Weston McKennie before he went to Juventus, is very, very impressive and gives hope to the American national team as well."
Klinsmann: "I think that John Brooks this year is probably the best defender in the Bundesliga. I think he had an absolutely outstanding season and has been a big part of the success that Wolfsburg had this year: probably qualifying for the Champions League. The consistency he played with week in, week out is something admirable. That's something that a lot of people said about John: "he is really, really good but he always has a poor performance and is just not as consistent" but this year, this year was unbelievable. I mean, consistent, outstanding. He's very focused, very calm. His passing is crisp, is perfect. Also, personality wise. He has his nerves under control also when he was provoked or something happened. He stayed calm. He matured a lot over the last couple of years. That's why I think, if you create a top 11 of the Bundesliga at the end of the season, one of the center-backs has to be John Brooks."
bundesliga.com: Two of the younger players - Chris Richards and Matthew Hoppe - have had breakout seasons in 2020/21. What do you think of them?
Klinsmann: "I see Chris Richards and Matthew Hoppe, I see them as massive talents. Real talents. They got opportunities to get minutes. Obviously, for Matthew it was a tough year with Schalke's relegation. Very, very difficult to deal with emotionally as well but he got his minutes, he scored his goals. He made a name for himself at his young age. You can only hope that he stays there and gets through the year in Bundesliga 2 at the front, scoring goals and then coming back to the Bundesliga after a year of having been relegated. That's my hope for him. Chris Richards, also a huge talent. The right thing to do, going from Bayern Munich to Hoffenheim. He got playing time. Also, there he matured. He got his minutes there. That's the most important thing for young players. The most important thing is to get your minutes; to get your time on the field. Both of them had their time. Probably, year by year, they will have more time but you can see from the few moments that they have had that they have a lot of talent."
Watch: Jesse Marsch: Leipzig's Coming Man
bundesliga.com: In Jesse Marsch, another coach from the USA is now coming to the league - to RB Leipzig. How did you receive this news?
Klinsmann: "I got the news that he moved from Salzburg to Leipzig through the media which is a huge, huge move for Jesse Marsch. I think it's a huge recognition for the work he did at Salzburg, for his coaching qualities and his drive but also for the fact that he takes that adventure on, taking the risk of moving to a big club, now, in the Bundesliga from Salzburg where he, pretty much won them titles there because they're too good for that league there in Austria but you also see his learning curve as a coach, as a manager. That's admirable. I think, with Jesse Marsch in the Bundesliga next year, we will have a wonderful coach with his personality and his open-mindedness. He has a smile on his face. He is positive. He continues the traditional history of Leipzig of having young coaches. RB Leipzig built a philosophy over the last couple of years of attractive football with high pressure, high intensity. Going forward, scoring goals. Exciting people. That's why, before Covid, they had 38,000 fans on average per game. That's all built over a very short amount of time. He continues this philosophy at Leipzig. I can only wish him the best."
bundesliga.com: Philipp Lahm was one of the fairest players in BL history. He never served a suspension for red or yellow cards in the league. What do you think was the reason for that?
Klinsmann: "Well, I think the reason why Philipp Lahm never needed to play fouls basically or was never in danger of getting a yellow card was because he always foresaw the next moment. He could read the game two seconds ahead of time. He knew where to be ahead of his opponents. He knew into which spaces to move before things actually happened. He never got himself in those miserable situations where you have to commit a foul to save a teammate or a goal. This was his outstanding capability of thinking ahead. Then, he had such great technique. He could play on the left side, the right side. You never knew which side was better for him. Therefore, he was such an outstanding player over so many years. The fact that he never used any fouling is just amazing and admirable."