VfB Stuttgart’s southpaw star Borna Sosa has had his hat thrown in the ring for a spot in Germany’s Euro 2020 squad and been likened to an inverted David Beckham.
Here, bundesliga.com lifts the lid on the Croatia-born lefty’s rapid rise...
Club: VfB Stuttgart
Position: Left-back/left midfield
Country: Croatia (19 U21 caps)/Germany
Born in the Croatian capital of Zagreb on 21 January 1998, Sosa joined the youth academy of hometown club Dinamo Zagreb as a seven-year-old in 2005. Sosa made his professional debut for Dinamo 10 years later, playing the full 90 minutes of a 2-0 win over city rivals NK Zagreb – a game that also saw RB Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo named among the Dinamo substitutes.
Sosa made his European bow by featuring in both the qualifying and group stages of Dinamo’s 2016/17 UEFA Champions League campaign. He went on to make 41 appearances and six assists over four seasons with the Modri, helping them collect three Croatian league titles and two domestic cups. The then 18-year-old’s sole appearance in the 2016 edition of the latter came in their 2-1 victory in the final, in which he played the full 90 minutes.
Watch: Borna Sosa nominated for Bundesliga Team of the Season
Ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, Sosa penned a five-year deal with Stuttgart and made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 1. An injury-hit first season at the Mercedes-Benz Arena concluded with 12 league appearances, while he chalked up a first assist of his career in the MD32 3-1 loss at Hertha Berlin – supplying Mario Gomez with one of his now trademark pinpoint crosses.
Sosa did not feature in either leg of Suttgart’s ultimately unsuccessful relegation play-off showdown with Union Berlin that season as VfB were relegated. Their return to the top-flight was, however, immediate, although injuries again restricted Sosa’s input to 12 games. But he did contribute three assists and scored for the first time as a professional by grabbing the equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Darmstadt on 16 December 2019.
The 2020/21 season has been revelatory for Sosa and Stuttgart, with the 23-year-old finding form and consistency on the left side of coach Pellegrino Matarazzo’s hugely successful 3-4-2-1 formation. The result has been nine Sosa assists in 24 outings after 32 matchdays. And now, having turned out 56 times for Croatia up to U21 level, Sosa has emerged as a potential member of Die Mannschaft’s Euro 2020 squad after gaining citizenship through his Berlin-born mother Vesna.
Watch: Sosa: "I'd be interested in playing for Germany"
Plays a bit like: David Beckham
"Borna's said himself that David Beckham is his role model, and I think he has the same qualities." Those were the words of VfB sporting director Sven Mislintat, and ones that Sosa found flattering as he later responded: "It’s hard to compare yourself to a football legend. But is it nice to hear something like that? Naturally. And do we have anything in common in our crosses? We do. It's not easy to learn. You either have it or you don't."
Sosa certainly does "have it" and his marauding raids from the left that result in menacing perfect cross after menacing perfect cross are like watching mirrored versions of Beckham highlight reels.
Did you know?
The Beckham-in-a-mirror comparisons aside, a more like-for-like player served as Sosa’s inspiration growing up. "When I was little, David Alaba was my idol," Sosa told bundesliga.com. "I said that in the interviews I gave 10 years ago, that Alaba was my favourite player in my position... He was really my favourite player in my position."
What they’re saying
"He puts in crosses from every angle: sometimes chipped, sometimes drilled, sometimes flat, sometimes in behind, sometimes to the front post, other times to the back post. His left foot is a real weapon." – Mislintat on Sosa’s strongest asset
"Borna has blossomed. We all knew about his huge potential - now he's delivering over 90 minutes on a consistent basis." – Stuttgart coach Matarazzo
"We know the lad and are watching him. We believe that Borna Sosa has the potential to become a German national team player. Of course, our assessments run beyond the Euros." – DFB director Oliver Bierhoff