Nico Elvedi ended the season just gone with the best pass completion percentage in the Bundesliga, but what else is there to know about Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Switzerland international centre-back?
bundesliga.com takes a closer look…
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Country: Switzerland (11 caps/1 goal)
Born in Zürich, Elvedi joined hometown club FC Zürich before his 10th birthday and raced through their youth teams to make his Swiss Super League debut at the age of 17 years, seven months and 16 days, helping them to a 1-0 win at Lausanne-Sport. The 6’2” defender’s assured displays in helping FCZ to a third-place finish in 2015 were enough for Gladbach to take a gamble on his talent with Elvedi having played just a single season of senior professional football.
Now 22, Elvedi has already featured in more than 100 games for the Foals, helping them finish in the European places in two of his four seasons at the club. A full Switzerland international with 11 appearances and one goal – scored against Belgium, currently first in the FIFA World rankings – to his name, Elvedi has also become a defensive mainstay for Gladbach, be it at centre-back, where he featured 24 times last season, or full-back, where he filled in – with aplomb – six times. An average of two challenges won per match may not sound like much, but with just a single yellow card against him, they are the numbers of a defender who reads the danger early, rather than having to compensate later.
Twelve clean sheets from his 30 appearances are also impressive in their own right, but Gladbach might not have found themselves on the front foot quite so often had Elvedi not completed a league-high 95.2 percent of his passes, coming in at a rate of 63 per game.
Watch: Elvedi also has goals in his repertoire, as evidenced with his winner against Mainz in March
Plays a bit like: John Stones
Elvedi’s elegance on the ball despite his height and ability to play centrally or wide in a three- or four-man defence is reminiscent of Manchester City and England stalwart John Stones. Stones may already have two English Premier League titles to boast, but Elvedi’s trajectory suggests that there will be significant silverware glistening in his trophy cabinet before his career is out.
Did you know?
Elvedi has a twin brother, Jan, who plays as a centre-back for Swiss second-tier outfit SC Kriens. The pair may be identical, but environmental influences have been known to accentuate the slightest differences between twins, and Nico always had the physical edge.
“He’s catching up,” Nico told Swiss daily newspaper Aargauer Zeitung of Jan. “I’m only two centimetres taller than he is now; it’s been six before!”
Big or small, the Elvedis are also 100 percent Swiss. Many of Elvedi’s international teammates were also eligible for other countries – Ricardo Rodriguez could have turned out for Spain or Chile; Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka qualify for Albania – but any Balkan call for Elvedi was always going to fall on deaf ears.
“Even [FC Zürich] president Ancillo Canepa once asked me if we came from Serbia,” he explained. “But we simply hail from Val Lumnezia in Graubünden.”
What they’re saying
“If it got outrageous, it might get a bit uncomfortable because sometimes you just want to be alone, you just want to go out for dinner with friends. If that happens in Mönchengladbach at some point, I’d have to consider trying out the restaurants in Düsseldorf (laughs)!” – Elvedi on garnering more fan attention after his impressive first season at Gladbach
“I like the way he plays out from the back, as well as his aggression. I don’t watch his videos, though!” – Elvedi on his role model growing up, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos
“Nico has taken another step forward, he has a great positional play and rarely commits any fouls.” – former Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking