The Borussia Mönchengladbach academy prides itself on producing top German talent, and Mahmoud Dahoud is no exception.
Read: Rhine derby hero Dahoud
Borussia Mönchengladbach's renowned in-stadium football academy has had its share of distinguished graduates down the years. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, now at FC Barcelona, and Patrick Herrmann are two of the more recent among them who have gone on to play for Germany. One of the latest looks fair set to follow a similar path in the none-too-distant future: Mahmoud Dahoud.
The 20-year-old supertalent has become a fixture for the Foals since André Schubert took up the coaching reins last September. Alongside combative skipper Granit Xhaka, Dahoud is the more creative half of a deep midfield double-act which has been integral to the team's rise from rock-bottom of the standings after Matchday 5 to the battle for Champions League places. He has featured in all but one of Gladbach's 25 Bundesliga games to date, netting three goals – most recently the derby winner against Köln – and chipping in with five direct assists.
Bald statistics aside the new number 8, who arrived with his parents in Germany aged ten months from his birth town of Amude, on Syria's border with Turkey, is, in the words of sporting director Max Eberl, “an exceptionally gifted footballer, who's ready to take the next step up with us. We have our own not insubstantial standards and targets, and we need him to help us achieve them.”
For his own part, Mo Dahoud seems unlikely to let the recent deluge of praise from all corners go to his head. Indeed, according to Schubert, “He's very wary of all the surrounding hullabaloo – he just wants to focus on his football.” An attitude which, needless to say, suits the coach just fine.
Dahoud's breakthrough could, in fact, have come far sooner, but for a series of wearisome injuries. Schubert's predecessor Lucien Favre had the young prospect training with the senior squad back in the summer of 2014, noting, “It's only a question of time till he gets his chance. It's great fun coaching him, he's got incredible quality.”
Now, the Germany U-20 international is demonstrating that quality on a regular basis in the Bundesliga, and to such good effect that he is already being touted as a fast-track candidate for a place in the world champions' senior squad. As far as that goes, he says, “I'm concentrating on Borussia right now – for all the rest, we'll just have to wait and see. But every footballer dreams of running out for his country some day, myself included.” A place on the Germany team at this summer's Rio Olympics could well be his next step along the way.