Germany's FIFA 2018 World Cup wild card Nils Petersen takes the prize for Freiburg's saviour of the season, but goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow deserves credit for coming up with some big saves at key moments in Die Breisgauer's ultimately successful fight for survival.
Even though he conceded the second-highest number of goals in the Bundesliga in 2017/18, Schwolow's heroics in draws with Borussia Dortmund (Matchday 3), Hoffenheim (Matchday 24) and Hertha Berlin (Matchday 26), proved decisive: three points which, in the end, were all that spared 15th-placed Freiburg a nerve-shredding joust in the relegation play-off.
No wonder the suitors are circling...
Watch: Schwolow did his bit for Freiburg against Hertha in the capital
A product of the Freiburg academy, it was during a loan spell in the Third Division with Arminia Bielefeld in 2014/15 that Schwolow forced his way back into the reckoning at his parent club. He made 33 appearances the following season as Freiburg held off the charge of ambitious Lower Saxony upstarts RB Leipzig to gain promotion to the top flight as Bundesliga 2 champions - and he's only missed one league game since.
Schwolow's stock gathered further momentum in 2016/17, a campaign which ended in a surprise seventh-placed finish and a place in the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds. Although there was to be no continental crusade after a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Slovenia's Domzale, Schwolow's reputation remained intact. So much so that La Liga outfit Sevilla, as well as a host of English clubs, reportedly weighed up moves for Freiburg's undisputed No.1.
An ever-present through the rough and tumble, Schwolow has a habit of saving Freiburg's bacon. His shot-stopping ability (exhibit A - a strong save to thwart Dortmund's Christian Pulisic early in the season); his agility (exhibit B - a flying stop to deny Hoffenheim's Serge Gnabry on Matchday 24); and his calmness under pressure (exhibit C - a sustained effort to keep Hertha at bay in the capital) put him firmly in the realm of what a modern goalkeeper should be all about. He's also pretty handy with his feet.
That's not to say he is the next Manuel Neuer, but Schwolow is (i) a safe pair of hands and (ii) a solid long-term investment. One that, for now, belongs to Freiburg.