The Bundesliga is home to the brightest young talents in world football. Borussia Mönchengladbach’s midfield is safe in the hands of Denis Zakaria. A powerhouse with passing ability far beyond his years, bundesliga.com provides the pertinent details about the Swiss wonderkid…
Position: Central midfielder
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
As far as stats go, Zakaria is up there with the best of them. The Swiss midfielder completed 100 per cent of his passes in his first four Bundesliga matches, immediately showing those around him that he means business. Standing at 6'2", the towering figure is a dominant midfield force who plays the easy pass when he has the opportunity. Very much a defence-minded player, Zakaria did still score twice in 2017/18 and provide three assists. After a superb debut campaign, the man who made two substitute appearances for his country at the 2018 World Cup will be pushing for more this season.
Plays a bit like: Patrick Vieira
"I've been compared to [Patrick] Vieira and [Paul] Pogba – two more players I really respect and, in a way, see as role models. When I watch videos of them I think I'd like to play that way," Zakaria said last season. There is plenty more to come from the midfielder and the signs are there that another Vieira or Pogba-styled long-limbed midfielder is on the way. His season-long pass success rate of 91 per cent and 50 per cent of 599 duels won highlight the type of player he's becoming.
Did you know?
Zakaria’s parents are from Sudan and Congo, but the Gladbach midfielder has only ever played for the country of his birth, Switzerland. He started out with the U19 team in 2014, and is now a 12-time senior international.
Watch: Zakaria was a Rookie of the Month candidate in February!
What they’re saying
"It's not easy to compare him to the greats of the past, but he combines many qualities that have were really defined by Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.” - Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer
"I love to win back possession and I also like carrying the ball and taking on opposition players, but I need to be more efficient, score and assist more goals and improve in the air. I've proved myself to be a quick learner, though, and I'm in the best place to learn fast." - Zakaria
"I'm glad that Gladbach have found another pearl. At his age I was earning my first stripes for Borussia. He reminds me of Toni Kroos at that age." - German football great Lothar Matthaüs