Tyler Adams' Bundesliga and international career with the USA team is just in its infancy, but the prodigiously gifted RB Leipzig man has already given more than a hint he could be the American answer to Bayern Munich and Germany's master-of-all-trades Joshua Kimmich.
Ask Ralf Rangnick what the USA international's best position is and you almost need a calculator. "Six, Eight, Ten, full-back — they are all positions in which he can play," says the Leipzig boss, who is clearly a massive fan of the player he called "the most sought-after in the MLS" when he coaxed the New York-state native across the Atlantic Ocean.
Since, Leipzig fans have seen why their experienced coach, who has already seen it all in spells with Schalke, VfB Stuttgart and Hoffenheim, can get so excited about Adams' talent, and USA boss Gregg Berhalter clearly shares Rangnick's opinion that the 20-year-old can play almost anywhere on the pitch.
Watch: Tyler Adams discusses life in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig
The USMNT boss used Adams at right-back — the same position Kimmich, originally a midfielder, has made his own for Bayern and Germany — in last week's 1-0 win over Ecuador in Orlando in which Wolfsburg's John Brooks also stood out.
"Overall, our collective defense I thought was good,” Berhalter said post-game after seeing his back four reduce the visitors to a paltry single attempt at goal.
"John Brooks was Man of the Match, he got the coach’s game ball as well. Aaron Long could have gotten it, Tyler Adams was excellent and Tim Ream was good. We didn’t give them any openings. They couldn’t find penetrating passes. They resorted to long balls and those guys gobbled everything up."
That will come as no surprise to Rangnick, who has already spied the in-built defensive instincts that kick in when Adams is playing. "He has an uncanny sense of the situation when it comes to going out to win the ball," he said, highlighting a talent that serves Adams — and his teams — well in both midfield and defence.
It is far from the only attribute that means he can 'do a Kimmich' in shuttling happily from right-back to midfield and back again. His average of 35 sprints a game this season is the most of any Leipzig player, while only Diego Demme and Bruma cover more than the 7.5 miles he has clocked per 90 minutes in Germany so far.
His ability to intercept a pass nearly three times a game — the best ratio of any Leipzig player — means the potentially decisive breaking up of opponents' play; his 55.7 percent success rate in challenges backs up Rangnick's assessment and displays the American's determination. In fact, only Leipzig's defenders have a better ratio when it comes to coming out on top in the tackle.
But to reduce Adams to a defensive destroyer would be a grave injustice. While Kimmich's knack of finding the sweet spot on the ball and delivering set-pieces with laser-guided precision means he is trusted with free-kicks and corners in a Bayern squad jam-packed with top-drawer ball players, so Leipzig's Yankee doodle handyman has a lot more in his locker than 'win it and give it'. At least, not giving it merely simply.
"It was a brilliant assist," glowed Rangnick after Adams had won the ball, jinked away from two Stuttgart men and slipped a no-look pass to Yussuf Poulsen to claim Leipzig's final strike in their 3-1 win on Matchday 22, the US youngster's third Bundesliga start. "The way he won the ball and then played it directly to Poulsen highlights why we wanted to get him in the winter."
It is the sort of thing that New York Red Bulls fans will have been used to seeing: Same old Tyler Adams, always, well, not scoring, but having a major impact on whether his team — and opponents — find the net. And Leipzig are asking for nothing more.
"Tyler Adams 'only' has to get used to life in Germany. On the pitch, he has to continue from where he left off in MLS I can only confirm that… It feels like [Tyler Adams] has been with us for some time,” said Rangnick, who has yet to see Adams lose in a Leipzig shirt after eight games, and he has won all five of his starts.
"It's not only up to him, of course, but the style and the way in which we play with him on the pitch."
Adams himself describes his dream start to life in Europe as "surreal" and says, "I'm just happy that things have worked out". But another reason Rangnick decided he would fit in at the Red Bull Arena is his attitude towards his game, namely that he will never rest on his laurels.
"Even when I play my natural position, there’s so much to work on," he said post-game after his impressive cameo in the back four in Florida. "For me the biggest thing is embracing the role and trying to run with it. I think the guys around me helped me and gave me confidence.
"Playing next to Aaron Long, who I’ve had behind me in so many games before was a confidence boost for me and I think I still have the ability to go out there, roam and affect the game. In the end, I still think there are things I need to improve on, but it would be good to go back, watch the video and see some things."
In addition to the areas he can improve, he will also see the many, many things he did right out of his "natural position".
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