Philippe Coutinho, Christian Günter, Amine Harit, Joshua Kimmich, Stefan Lainer and Robert Lewandowski are the nominees for the Bundesliga's Player of the Month for September. The award, created by the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga in cooperation with the Bundesliga’s official licensing partner, EA SPORTS FIFA 20, is decided through a two-stage selection process that considers both the players' individual performance data and a vote by fans and experts.
Philippe Coutinho announced his arrival on the Bundesliga stage in style in September. The Brazilian magician was unplayable in games against 1. FC Köln and SC Paderborn, pulling the strings from midfield in his own inimitable way. The 27-year-old registered a goal and assist in both matches; only FC Schalke 04’s Amine Harit hand a hand in more goals in September (four goals, two assists). “It was a special moment,” Coutinho recalled of his maiden Bundesliga goal, from the penalty spot against Köln. “I was so happy.”
Coutinho isn’t the only one basking in his majestic displays. “I think everyone in the stadium today and everyone who watched the match once again saw the ability he has and the quality he has on the ball,” FC Bayern München coach Niko Kovac said of his fleet-footed No.10’s mesmeric performance against Paderborn. “At times it really looks like he's dancing with the ball. He knows exactly when, how and what to do with the ball.” He’s also pretty useful in a defensive capacity, having won 70 per cent of his attempted challenges – a Bayern best-mark alongside defender Jerome Boateng. Ominously, Bayern CEO Karl Heinz-Rummenigge says the Barcelona loanee “will only get better in the weeks ahead.”
SC Freiburg are one of the surprise packages of the Bundesliga season so far. Die Breisgauer finished the month in third place, thanks in no small part to the performances of their Captain Fantastic, Christian Günter. The free-roaming left-back played the full 90 minutes in all three of Freiburg’s assignments in September, allying his defensive qualities with his penchant for purposeful attacks. He had a hand in three of Freiburg’s six goals, scoring one and assisting two.
“Perhaps you become more of a goal threat with age,” Günter said after opening his account for the season in the Matchday 4 win away to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. “Maybe I’ll be more clinical and lay on more goals.” The Freiburg skipper is leading by example, and his performances have not gone unnoticed by the club’s hierarchy. “He has something which is invaluable – unbridled spirit,” commented head coach Christian Streich of the 26-year-old defender, a product of the club’s youth academy. “He works consistently hard.” Freiburg sporting director Jochen Saier has been equally struck by Günter’s application: “He’s incredibly diligent, and has made step-by-step improvements because of it.”
Amine Harit has been at the heart of Schalke’s upturn in fortunes. Last season was tough for the Royal Blues, and it was tougher still for the Morocco international – but he’s come out fighting. Harit hand a direct hand in six Bundesliga goals in September (four goals, two assists) – more than any other player. Indeed, he’s already registered more goals and assists after six matches than he managed over the entire course of 2018/19. “No one would have believed it if one of us said that before the start of the season,” admitted Schalke general manager, Sascha Riether, referencing Harit’s eye-catching renaissance.
Harit himself credits new coach David Wagner for helping him rediscover his best form. “The coach puts a lot of trust in me and I’m paying him back!” the 2017/18 Rookie of the Season explained. “I’m not worried about losing the ball, I feel free and full of self-confidence on the pitch.” Wagner hasn’t only given Harit the keys to the Schalke attack – he’s also shaped him into the model team player. “We don’t need to talk about his qualities going forward,” the Schalke boss said. “I told him what he needs to change to become a better player. He’s completely open to my ideas and is doing a great job.” Harit’s September return attests to that.
Whether on the right-hand side of the defence or in central midfield, Joshua Kimmich has become undroppable at Bayern and is developing into one of the record champions’ genuine on-field leaders. The Germany international showcased his abilities once again in September by chipping in with two assists and teeing up a league-high 14 shots on goal. He also played more passes than any other midfield player over the course of the month (215), finding a man with 92 per cent of them.
It’s no wonder Bundesliga legend Lothar Matthäus holds the Bayern all-rounder in such high regard. “For me, Joshua Kimmich is world class,” the former Bayern and Germany ace told Abendzeitung. “Philipp Lahm could also play in both positions, like Kimmich. Joshua is in no way inferior to Lahm. In central midfield, he is the stabilizer, the organiser, the one who the game is built around. He’s even more involved out on the right, producing goals and assists. He’s so often the catalyst in attack.” He’s not afraid to speak up, either: “Nobody was happy with the way we played,” Kimmich said of Bayern’s 3-2 win at promoted Paderborn. And nobody embodies Bayern’s voracious winning gene more.
The signing of Stefan Lainer has proved a real coup for Borussia Mönchengladbach. The right-back, who followed coach Marco Rose from Salzburg to Borussia-Park, has hit the ground running at his new club. The Austria international gave little away defensively in September, and made a telling contribution in the final third. He teed up a team-leading 11 attempts on goal last month, putting him fourth in that category league-wide. The 27-year-old also helped himself to a couple of assists.
“Stevie is a force of nature, he has an incredible mentality,” enthused Rose. “He bombs up and down the flank, makes things happens – that’s his game.” The 5’6” pocket rocket’s tireless running has duly ingratiated him to the Gladbach fans. “I feel really happy here,” he said. “It’s always massively appreciated when you give your all, that’s what people want to see. Then it doesn’t matter if you play a bad pass – if you work hard and run, they’ll cheer you.” Few Gladbach players were applauded as much as Lainer in September.
Robert Lewandowski cannot stop scoring – how often have you heard that before? The Bayern striker took his tally for the season to 10 goals in September, becoming the first player in Bundesliga history to post double figures after six matchdays. "It's an incredible return,” said Bayern teammate Kimmich. "Ten goals already - that's serious numbers!" Four fell in September – a brace against Köln, as well as strikes against RB Leipzig and Paderborn. Only Schalke’s Harit hit the back of the net as often.
“There’s nothing better than scoring goals,” Lewandowski, 31, told Sport1. And right now, nobody does it better than the prolific Pole. Clinical in the opposition penalty box, a bona fide threat from range and a menace in the build-up – there is just no stopping Lewangoalski. If he continues like this, he’ll blow Bayern legend Gerd “Der Bomber” Müller’s record single-season 40-goal haul (1971/72) out of the water.
Robert Lewandowski (August 2019)
Kai Havertz (May 2019)
Kai Havertz (April 2019)
Max Kruse (March 2019)
Julian Brandt (February 2019)
Leon Goretzka (January 2019)
Marco Reus (December 2018)
Marco Reus (November 2018)
Jadon Sancho (October 2018)
Marco Reus (September 2018)