Mergim Berisha: Who is Augsburg's free-scoring German forward Bayern Munich cannot stop?
He has scored every time he has faced Bayern Munich, honed his goalscoring talents at RB Salzburg like Erling Haaland and Karim Adeyemi, and is now terrorirising defences in his maiden Bundesliga season with Augsburg — bundesliga.com answers the question: who is Mergim Berisha?
Data correct as of 15 March 2023
Club: Augsburg (on loan from Fenerbahce)
Country: Germany U21 (13 caps, one goal)
Berisha's birthplace, Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, is just a stone's throw from the Austrian border, and he crossed it aged just 10 to join the Red Bull Salzburg youth academy. A fruitful three-year spell on loan at FC Liefering then followed, emulating the likes of Karim Adeyemi, Konrad Laimer, Xaver Schlager and Dominik Szoboszlai, who also all took early steps in their careers there. En route to scoring seven times to help Salzburg win the 2016/17 UEFA Youth League - alongside Patson Daka and Amadou Haidara, and coached by RB Leipzig's current boss Marco Rose - Berisha was given a pro contract by the club in January 2017.
After making his first-team debut in April 2017, Berisha was loaned out successively to LASK, Magdeburg — where he played just four Bundesliga 2 games in a brief first professional football experience in Germany - and Altach before establishing himself in the Salzburg first team in the 2020/21 season.
Playing alongside Adeyemi and Szoboszlai, Berisha struck 14 goals and tallied 10 assists in just 28 Austrian Bundesliga games. He also registered six goal involvements (four goals, two assists) in six Champions League outings, including scoring in both group-stage defeats to Bayern Munich, to make a name for himself on the European stage.
After 13 years at Salzburg, Berisha left in September 2021 to join Fenerbahce, scoring four times in 22 Süper Lig games in his first season in Turkey. He also found the net when he came off the bench for his only outing for the Istanbul giants at the start of the 2022/23 season before Augsburg arrived to bring him to Germany on loan for the remainder of the campaign.
Somehow, Berisha slipped under the radar for Germany at youth international level, only finally coming to the surface when then coach Stefan Kuntz — a two-time Torjägerkanone winner and UEFA EURO '96 champion as a player — called him into the U21 squad in 2019. He started all six games in the final tournament as Germany were crowned European champions in the age category that year.
Following his headline-grabbing brace against Bayern, will he now make the step up to the senior team? If Hansi Flick, who was watching the game at the Allianz Arena, does give him a call, he'll have to have a word with his beloved as his summer 2024-scheduled wedding clashes with Germany hosting the Euros. "I wouldn't have anything against having to postpone it," he said.
Plays a bit like: Mario Gomez
Berisha's command of the opposition penalty area coupled with ability to take chances on either foot or with his head is remniscent of retired German striker Mario Gomez, who won Bundesliga titles with VfB Stuttgart and Bayern.
Watch: All Mergim Berisha's Bundesliga goals so far
Did you know?
Berisha has scored in all four of his competitive meetings with Bayern, tallying five goals in total, including his Matchday 24 double. "Unfortunately, my two goals weren't enough," he said after the 5-3 loss. "The important thing is that we learn from it."
What they're saying
"He scored good goals and had some good duels with Upamecano, which is more than Mbappé and Messi managed." - Augsburg teammate Rafal Gikiewicz
"He is a very good player. He positions his body well and is very good in front of goal." - Bayern's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic
"Mergim is a forward who I can see playing for the senior national side. I would of course be really delighted if an FC Augsburg player featured for the German national team." - Stefan Reuter, Augsburg CEO
"I think there are few better number nines in Germany when you see the quality of his finishing with his left foot, his right, his head." - Augsburg coach Enrico Maaßen
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