RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer will be a key player for Austria in their UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 meeting with Italy. bundesliga.com profiles a player known in some circles as "the Austrian N'Golo Kante"...
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Defensive midfielder
Country: Austria (12 caps, one goal, six assists)
Laimer is a product of the RB Salzburg academy, but made his senior debut for the club's feeder side, second-tier Liefering, in 2014. Within months, he was back at Salzburg, where he became the Austrian Bundesliga's second youngest debutant, aged 17 years, four months and one day. Two years later and a first-team regular, the Salzburg native was named the 2016/17 Austrian Bundesliga's Player of the Season for his part in Die Roten Bullen's third successive league and cup double.
Laimer made the switch to Leipzig that summer, spending his first two seasons in the Bundesliga flitting between central midfield and wing-back roles. The greenest player in the Austria squad that reached the last 16 of the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup, he made his senior international debut in his preferred holding role, in a June 2020 Euro qualifier against Slovenia. The tenacious right-footer notched a brace of assists on his second outing, before scoring one and setting up two more on his third.
Watch: Konrad Laimer was a Rookie of the Month nominee in March 2018
Laimer enjoyed a second 29-game Bundesliga season in a row in 2019/20. He finished the campaign as the division's toughest-tackling midfielder, whilst completing 82.6 percent of his attempted passes. An ankle fracture restricted the 5'10" forager - who had featured in every game during Leipzig's run to the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League semi-finals - to three Bundesliga appearances last season, but he recovered in time to start all three group matches at Euro 2020 as Austria reached the knockout rounds for the first time in their history.
Plays a bit like: N'Golo Kante
To paraphrase former France midfielder Emmanuel Petit's pre-Euro 2020 assessment of Kante, "Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is water, the other 30 percent is covered by Konrad Laimer."
You'll be hard pressed to find a player who harries the opposition quite as intensively as Laimer, who is also a dab hand at shielding the ball, recycling possession and facilitating counter-attacks. 'Dirty Work' could be his middle name.
Did you know?
Laimer, who has reportedly been scouted by Manchester United, grew up idolising Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard.
"The way he played football, the passion and the emotions - that's what I was always able to identify with," the Austrian said after his move to Leipzig.
What they're saying
"He's going to be a key player for the club in the future. He hasn't reached his potential yet." - former Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann
"He is incredibly aggressive on the ball, challenges opponents very hard and brings established professionals to the ground. He knows exactly what he wants." - former Salzburg and new Borussia Mönchengladbach head coach Adi Hütter
"I don't know what he ate or had to drink beforehand. To cover that amount of ground is crazy. He has a huge future." - Austria forward Marko Arnautovic, following Austria's Euro 2020 qualifying win over North Macedonia