When discussing the depth of young German talent, the name Mahmoud Dahoud is invariably among the first few mentioned. Easy-going and reserved off the pitch, Dahoud is assertive and omnipresent on it, making noise on the field rather than off it.
Borussia Mönchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl has called his young jewel “a classic street footballer, who only wants to play football. He wants nothing to do with all the ‘ballyhoo.’”
Since turning 21 on New Year’s Day this year, the midfield dynamo has leveraged his highly-regarded defensive vision and anticipation to help his club move from 16th in the table into the thick of the race for a Europa League spot. Much like the way he can quickly switch a difficult situation into an attack with one of his pinpoint long passes, Dahoud has inspired Die Fohlen to flip their brief relegation-fight scare into a hopeful charge towards a top-six finish.
Whether Dieter Hecking’s men finish their drive to Europe successfully, Dahoud will definitely be playing on the continent in 2017/18 anyway. After months of speculation over Dahoud’s footballing future, Borussia Dortmund – who are already assured of a spot in one of the two UEFA club competitions – announced in late March they had secured a transfer to add Dahoud to their stable of high-quality midfielders. Sporting director Michael Zorc said his latest acquisition "is a highly talented and exciting central midfield player. He's already proven that he can cut it at the highest level."
Watch: Dahoud's cracker against Augsburg.
Despite his young age, the Syrian-born German is already wrapping up his second full season as a regular for one of the Bundesliga’s most competitive clubs. In 2015/16, Dahoud made a name for himself through high-energy performances in which he simply outworked the competition. By the season’s end, he had averaged 12.55 kilometres per match; only Hertha BSC’s Vladimir Darida and Tolga Cigerci had run more.
In an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper, Dahoud credited his Syrian roots for his stubbornness and his German upbringing for his work ethic. "Even a single day without training is one too many for me," says the self-confessed perfectionist. "I'm never quite satisfied with myself."
Despite eligibility to represent either Syria or Germany, there was never a question that Dahoud’s loyalty lies with the country he has called home since he was ten months old. "Germany, of course," he declared. "I already play for the German youth teams and sing the national anthem with conviction, at least as well as I can."
Though he has yet to win his first cap with Die Mannschaft, signs point to Dahoud playing a role in Joachim Löw’s approach to Russia 2018. When the German national coach was missing some players to various injuries and commitments last May while preparing for the European Championships, Dahoud got the call into a training camp before returning to his task of helping Germany’s Under-21 squad qualify for this summer’s European Championships in Poland.
"The call-up for the U21s is the next step in my career, the last station before the national team, so to speak," said Dahoud in an interview with dfb.de. "It's something completely special." Whether he is selected for Löw’s Confederations Cup squad or heads to Poland with his U21 colleagues, this summer promises the world a chance to catch a glimpse of what promises to be a special footballing career.