The Bundesliga is home to the brightest young talents in world football. After a breakthrough season in 2017/18, the "flagship of the Hertha Berlin academy," according to sporting director Michael Preetz, Arne Maier's rapid rise is set to continue in 2018/19.
Position: Defensive midfielder
Club: Hertha Berlin
From his 17 appearances in the Bundesliga last season – of which 14 were starts – Maier gathered one assist. But that’s not what he’s on the pitch to do. The lynchpin between defence and attack, the 19-year old is superb in finding space between the opposition lines himself, as well as playing through balls and managing the match from his central midfield position. His 86 per cent pass completion rate from nearly 600 passes last season shows his composure in his work, rarely giving the ball away. The six-footer prefers to play the the simple game and keep the ball moving quickly, but he can also take matters into his own hands: with three goals in only nine appearances for the Germany U19 team, he’s proving that he can’t be underestimated in any class.
Plays a bit like: Toni Kroos
Maier has often been seen in the middle of the Olympiastadion pitch, being the connection between all those around him in the blue and white of Hertha. Incredibly comfortable and composed on the ball, the teenager is quick to move the ball on and can do it in any direction. Whether a short pass to his side, a through ball to a striker or a long ball to a winger, his distribution is full-proof, much like that of Germany’s Toni Kroos. When needed, he can also dribble his way out of trouble before playing the right ball – a trait that can often separate the good players from the great players and one he showed when claiming his only Bundesliga assist to date, as he breached the Hamburg defence with assurance.
Did you know?
In an annual competition between the best young players and goalkeepers in Berlin, where each player takes 15 shots on goal to show his talent. A certain Maier just happened to score all 15 of his shots on goal on that day a few years ago. Maier has since been awarded the U19 sliver Fritz-Walter Medal behind Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz. The prize is given to the best young talents in German football.
What they're saying
"I’m getting a lot of game-time, we have an exciting squad, it’s my city, my team – it doesn’t get any better at 19" – Maier
"He produced an endless amount of goals and assists in the youth leagues. He has to show that in his next step with the first team." – Hertha head coach Pal Dardai
"He has mastered the leap from junior to senior level and has shown how much potential he has. We’re convinced that his great development up to now is far from over." – Preetz