Karim Adeyemi has been awarded the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season 2022/23 prize, presented by Sorare. The Borussia Dortmund youngster won the vote ahead of Lee Buchanan, Tom Krauß, Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe, Henning Matriciani and Matthijs de Ligt.
The nominees were made up of the six players to have been previously voted Rookie of the Month throughout the campaign.
There is nobody as fast as Adeyemi. Quite literally – with the Germany international clocking up a phenomenal pace of 36.65 km/h during the course of the season to beat the record previously held by Bayern Munich speedster Alphonso Davies (36.53 km/h). Despite Adeyemi’s raw pace, the summer signing from Red Bull Salzburg made a relatively slow start to life in the Bundesliga. The attacker made regular appearances before the winter break but wasn’t able to score or assist in that time. That situation has completely changed in the new year. The 21-year-old has since smashed six goals and provided five assists in just 11 appearances, with injury limiting his playing time. Adeyemi was the deserved winner of the Rookie of the Month title in January – and had he not experienced injury problems, he surely would have taken more honours in the following months.
A delighted Edin Terzic said at the start of the year: “He is doing really, really good right now, and we just hope that we can keep on having so much fun with him in the team.” Adeyemi certainly has not disappointed his coach, who had a big part to play in the forward's rocketing form. Terzic moved the left-footer over to the left flank from the right, with Adeyemi more inclined to keep the play out wide on his natural side or chase past the opposition defensive line. That has enabled Dortmund to get behind numerous defences with quite staggering results. Dortmund have clocked up a Bundesliga best 53 goals since the winter break. Should their attacking machine keep on firing in the final two matches, Adeyemi has every hope of adding another trophy to his collection – the Bundesliga title.
Watch: Adeyemi picked up January's honours
The young Englishman became the first Rookie of the Month of the season, beating off competition from de Ligt and Josha Vagnoman in the August voting. The left-back had a sensational start to his Bundesliga career, taking a place in league history in just his third appearance. As a substitute he netted an 89th-minute strike that saw Werder Bremen pull back to 2-1 down against Borussia Dortmund – heralding the start to the latest comeback in Bundesliga history. Ole Werner’s spirited newly promoted side won 3-2 to condemn title-chasing Dortmund to what remains their only home defeat of the season so far.
It was a promising start to life in the Bundesliga for Buchanan, who has had to settle for substitute appearances due to the strong form of the experienced Anthony Jung. The speedy full-back's only start came in a 2-0 defeat at Freiburg on Matchday 11. Werner has said of the youngster, who he hopes to develop into a regular: “He can use his speed better in attacking situations, to get right to the byline more often into positions he can deliver crosses from. I presume he will get a chance to show what he can do and stake a claim for a starting spot.” His contributions in August, including inspiring that miracle comeback in Dortmund, certainly bode well for his future.
Watch: Buchanan was August's Rookie of the Month
Schalke’s midfield dynamo was understandably emotional after the win at Mainz on Matchday 31. Krauß had scored Schalke’s second goal in the dramatic and vital 3-2 victory with a precise and powerful drive. “These are moments I have dreamed of since I was a child,” he said. The development of the 21-year-old has indeed been dreamlike. He had spent two years as a regular for Nuremberg in Bundesliga 2, but the ease with which he has transitioned to life in the top flight has come as a surprise. He has missed one match suspended and once came off the bench, but otherwise the Germany U21 international has started all of Schalke’s first 32 matches of the season.
The boy from Leipzig has fully lived up to the praise of Schalke’s former sporting director Rouven Schröder, who said after his loan signing last summer: “In Tom Krauß we have attracted one of the biggest talents in Germany for his age to Schalke.” His tackling qualities are self-evident, with no other Schalke man contesting or winning more direct challenges than him. His intelligent play has also helped him to two Rookie of the Month honours – the Leipzig loanee won in both September and February. Ensuring survival for Schalke would complete a perfect campaign for Krauß.
Watch: Krauß won his second Rookie of the Month crown in February
Dina Ebimbe enjoyed an incredible autumn following his loan move to Frankfurt from Paris Saint-Germain. The versatile midfielder grasped a regular starting position at the start of October and did not give that up before the winter break. He played a pivotal role in Oliver Glasner’s side as a wide right player in front of a back three. He recorded all three of his goal involvements so far this season (two goals and one assist) in this time. With Frankfurt flying, he scooped up both the October and November Rookie of the Month titles.
Dina Ebimbe had been expected to slot into central midfield initially, but thanks to his athleticism and ability on the ball, he has been deployed to great effect in several positions this season. Eintracht coach Glasner said of the 22-year-old: "He has incredible speed, dynamism and depth.” Only an ankle injury could stop the Frenchman’s formidable form, with the problem sustained in Frankfurt’s first match of 2023 against Schalke keeping him sidelined until Matchday 27. He has been deployed in central midfield recently after starting life with the Eagles on the right, with his attacking and defensive strengths being called upon.
Watch: Dina Ebimbe made it back-to-back Rookie of the Month titles in November
Matriciani has no need for outside assistance give his wealth of strength and stamina, but that didn’t stop Ralf Fährmann joking after the 2-2 derby draw with Dortmund: “Henning needs a doping test!” The Schalke shot-stopper was referring to a moment when the 23-year-old thrilled the fans with a goal- and point-saving challenge. Mo Dahoud had a big chance to make it 3-2 to Dortmund in the 90th minute, with the midfielder taking aim for the right corner. Fährmann seemed beaten, only for Matriciani to fly in out of nowhere with an incredible sliding block. He deserved all the plaudits that came his way for that, with the Schalke Twitter account mocking up a picture of a besuited Matriciani receiving the Ballon d’Or.
It may not have been the Ballon d’Or, but the Germany U21 international did actually get his hands on a trophy soon after – for Rookie of the Month for March. His defensive steel has made a few Schalke fans misty-eyed as they draw comparisons to legendary former defender Yves Eigenrauch. Fährmann heaped further praise by saying: "He is a total mentality monster". Just the kind of player Schalke have needed for their spirited survival bid. Giving up just isn’t an option.
Watch: Matriciani claimed March's Rookie of the Month
When the chips are down, you need the kind of players who can lead by example and breed a sense of security throughout the team. Amid their turbulent spring, Bayern Munich have found the ideal man for that job. De Ligt has increasingly carved out a position for himself as the record German champions’ defensive stalwart as the season has gone on – proving to fulfil all the promises Bayern must have had when they signed him last summer, and then some. Just like Julian Nagelsmann before him, Thomas Tuchel has made the battling centre-back a constant pick, whether in a back three of back four. “His leadership qualities are improving all the time. He just feels very happy here, and we love him,” says Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic on de Ligt’s incredible debut Bundesliga season.
The 23-year-old is showing his full worth at both ends of the pitch. He continually pops up in front of the opposing goal with testing long-range efforts. His third goal of the season was a huge one in the context of the title race – the decisive strike in a 1-0 win away to top-four hopefuls Freiburg. In the big match against Dortmund, he had already provided his first assist in the Bundesliga for Thomas Müller to score the second goal in a 4-2 win – showing de Ligt will always rise to the occasion. That is the kind of quality Bayern and their rich history of success know to appreciate all too well. The Dutchman has a great attitude too, saying: “What I always try to be is consistent. You need that consistency in defence – you can’t be world class in one game and all over the place in the next.”
Watch: De Ligt finally got his hands on the Rookie of the Month trophy in April
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