Matthijs de Ligt, Dion Beljo or Henning Matriciani? Vote for the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for March 2023
The Bundesliga is once again recognising the best young players in the 2022/23 season with the Rookie of the Month award presented by Sorare. The nominees for March are Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Dion Beljo (Augsburg) and Henning Matriciani (Schalke). Vote now for who you think deserves to win!
Click here to cast your vote for March's Rookie of the Month award!
The award is presented to the best young stars in the Bundesliga. As well as the fans, Bundesliga clubs and a panel of Bundesliga experts will cast their votes.
Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich)
Matthijs de Ligt didn’t need all that long after his summer transfer to acclimatise to Bundesliga life and take up the mantle as Bayern’s defensive leader. Even after less than a year in Munich, the Dutchman is already barking out commands on the pitch in German. Ex-coach Julian Nagelsmann had full faith in the vastly experienced (but still only) 23-year-old centre-back. De Ligt started all three Bundesliga games in March, marshalling things from the left of the now preferred back three. He played the full 90 minutes in two of those outings. He came off for a well-deserved rest seven minutes from time in the 5-3 win over Augsburg.
De Ligt showed once again in these past three games that he is a solid performer. He bagged his second goal of the campaign with a strike to put Bayern ahead in their 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart. That goal came from outside of the box, but it’s in the area where he’s looked most dangerous – especially in the air. Four of his six efforts on goal in March were with his head. On top of that, there’s his reading of the game, as demonstrated with a crucial scrambling goal-line clearance in Stuttgart to ensure the Bavarians got their victory. The 40-time Netherlands international also won 69 percent of his challenges – the best return of any Bayern player and fifth best in the division among players who featured on all three March matchdays. Yet the Dutchman remains fair in what he does, committing just one foul per 90 minutes. The centre-back was also a key part of Bayern’s build-up play with an impressive pass completion rate up at 93 percent – only defensive partner Dayot Upamecano can top that for the record champions.
Dion Beljo had a great start to March, bagging his maiden Bundesliga goal – and first in Augsburg colours - just five minutes into the Matchday 23 encounter with Werder Bremen. And it proved how clinical the January signing can be, as he didn’t have another shot that day. The Croatian looks to be finally settling into life with Augsburg, where he is already a key part of Enrico Maaßen’s squad, featuring in all three March fixtures. The 21-year-old got to start in two of those, with the second being against Bayern München where he had a crucial involvement in Mergim Berisha’s goal after just two minutes. When Augsburg strike early, it’s often Beljo who’s involved.
The Croatian striker works extremely hard for the team. He sprints on average 15 times per 90 minutes and gets stuck into 32 challenges per game. No Augsburg player contests as many duels in relation to their playing time as Beljo. He also comes out on top in 44 percent of those one-on-ones, which is a good return for a striker. He also likes to press from the front, helping him cover around 11.8 kilometres per 90 minutes. The Zagreb native likes to have the ball as well, with an average of 43 touches – the most of any Augsburg forward.
Henning Matriciani has emerged as a very useful piece of the Schalke puzzle this season, as he proved once again in March. The 23-year-old defender has worked his way from lower-league Lippstadt into the Schalke reserves and now the Bundesliga over the last few years, going on to start all three top-flight fixtures in the last month. He completed the full 90 minutes in the first two before getting a 30-minute break on Matchday 25 against Augsburg. Above all, it’s his versatility that is proving most valuable to the Royal Blues and their push for survival. Nominally a right-back, he’s been playing in the centre of defence most of this season, but has now started the last four games at left full-back as Thomas Reis sought cover for the injured Jens Uronen and Thomas Ouwejan.
Matriciani is one of a handful of players in the Bundesliga this season to have featured in all three defensive roles, alongside Bayern München’s Josip Stanisic, RB Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenberg, Freiburg’s Lukas Kubler and Mainz’s Anthony Caci. The Schalke man has won a decent 52 percent of his challenges, with his success rate in the air of 75 percent particularly impressive. Players as versatile as him often struggle to find their feet across the different positions and rarely boast duel stats as good as his. His performances have seen him called up to Germany’s U21 squad for the first time in March as he looks to continue to his record of not yet committing a foul this month. Whether on the right, the left or in the centre, Schalke coach Thomas Reis knows Matriciani will deliver in defence.
Tom Krauß (Schalke, February 2023)
Karim Adeyemi (Borussia Dortmund, January 2023)
Eric Dina Ebimbe (Eintracht Frankfurt, November 2022)
Eric Dina Ebimbe (Eintracht Frankfurt, October 2022)
Tom Krauß (Schalke, September 2022)
Lee Buchanan (Werder Bremen, August 2022)
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