Born in Munich and being bred in Mönchengladbach: Florian Neuhaus is quickly becoming one of the Bundesliga and Germany's most talented attacking midfielders.
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Position: Central midfield
Country: Germany (six caps, two goals)
Born just 40 miles outside Munich, if Neuhaus was going to be a professional footballer, his career would almost certainly begin with one of the city's two biggest teams: Bayern or 1860. For Neuhaus, it was the latter, and it didn't take long for him to make his name known to the wider German football community. In the semi-finals of the German youth league in 2016, Neuhaus scored the winner against Borussia Dortmund in a 2-1 victory, doing so from the halfway line in the 89th minute. The strike was named Goal of the Month by German broadcaster Sportschau, and suddenly Neuhaus was a household name.
Neuhaus made his senior 1860 debut that same year in Bundesliga 2, and his talent was quickly clear to see. A host of top Bundesliga teams showed interest in the midfielder, but it was Gladbach who made the move first and signed Neuhaus to a long-term contract in the summer of 2017. He was immediately loaned to Düsseldorf, where his six goals and three assists in 27 second-tier matches helped Fortuna clinch the league title and promotion to the top flight.
Foals coach Dieter Hecking made it clear that Neuhaus would be a key member of Gladbach's squad going forward, but no-one could have predicted the outstanding start to the Bundesliga season he had at Borussia-Park: Neuhaus had a club-high eight assists in the first half of the campaign. The youngster went on to play in all but two of Gladbach's Bundesliga outings in 2018/19, and missed four league outings in 2019/20 as he has become a key part of Marco Rose's squad.
The 23-year-old made his debut for Joachim Löw's Germany side on 7 October, and scored in his maiden international appearance in a 3-3 draw with Turkey. He bagged a second senior international goal in his sixth cap: a 1-1 draw with Denmark on the eve of Neuhaus' first major international tournament having been selected in Löw's UEFA Euro 2020 squad. And after featuring 33 times out of 34 for Gladbach in 2020/21 - chalking up a career-high six league goals and a further five assists - Neuhaus heads to the tournament ready to play a big role.
Plays a bit like: Thomas Müller
Bayern and Germany superstar Müller is known for being a self-styled "Raumdeuter" (space-interpreter), and adopting this title as his own role on the pitch. Neuhaus may line up in central midfield for Gladbach, but he is rapidly being recognised as another space-interpreter like Müller, with a distinct ability to find and exploit gaps between the lines.
Watch: Neuhaus incredible Goal of the Month!
"It depends a lot on the timing with other players; the pass has to be perfect and the run co-ordinated to escape your marker – and that's the hard part," Neuhaus told the Rheinische Post. "It's intuitive, instinctive. Müller is known for making these runs."
His space-interpreting ability is reflected in the spaces he picks up his assists from, often behind the opposition midfield and ahead of their defence, able to play a perfect pass forward and pick the right spot in the blink of an eye.
Did you know?
Neuhaus had to choose between 1860 and Bayern after both Munich clubs made him an offer as a 10-year-old. Neuhaus opted for the blue of 1860, despite his father being a Bayern fan.
What they're saying
"In the past there were classic players wearing the No.10. In modern football, it's a bit of a different position, but the styles of the players are still quite similar. Maybe they are different in each system, but those are the players who can decide games." – Neuhaus on his favoured position
"My uncle was a Bremen fan, I had a Bremen poster on my wall of Mesut Özil. I love watching Özil and Toni Kroos play." – Neuhaus on his idols growing up
"Flo is a very good footballer with a lot of football intelligence. I’m delighted with his progress." - Germany coach Löw ahead of Euro 2020
"I share the same euphoria around Florian Neuhaus. I have to emphasise the incredible work that Fortuna Düsseldorf's coaching team did with him [in 2017/18], they also recognised his huge potential." – Former Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking