With the likes of Yussuf Poulsen, Bruma, Jean-Kevin Augustin and Emil Forsberg (l-r.) to call on, RB Leipzig are spoilt for choice in the wide areas going into the new 2016/17 campaign. - © © kein Copyright
With the likes of Yussuf Poulsen, Bruma, Jean-Kevin Augustin and Emil Forsberg (l-r.) to call on, RB Leipzig are spoilt for choice in the wide areas going into the new 2016/17 campaign. - © © kein Copyright

Forsberg, Bruma and the RB Leipzig wide boys hot on Bayern's heels


If you think Bayern Munich - with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Kingsley Coman and Co. - are the only Bundesliga club bursting at the seams with an embarrassment of riches in the wide positions, think again.

Fresh from a swashbuckling debut season in the German top flight, 2016/17 Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig have an augmented arsenal of forwards to make the defending champions wince.

But before we consider where dynamic newcomers Jean-Kevin Augustin and Bruma might fit in, let's remind ourselves of the vibrant set-up that helped drive the eastern upstarts' top-two finish in the first place.

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Leipzig's creative fulcrum, Emil Forsberg chimed in with a Bundesliga-high 19 assists, as well as eight goals, in 30 appearances in 2016/17. No other winger across Europe's top five leagues fared better in the final third, while the Swede's electric pace enabled the Saxon gategrashers to morph seamlessly from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 formation on the break. His place on the left-hand side of midfield is as safe as houses.

The same cannot be said of no-frills Dane Yussuf Poulsen and effervescent Austrian Marcel Sabitzer. Although the Leipzig duo were both first-team regulars in their own right last season - serving up a combined tally of 13 goals and nine assists - their respective positions in the Leipzig pecking order appear to have been compromised by the arrival of Augustin and Bruma.

Watch: Forsberg: "I want to become total package!"

Oliver Burke is a more natural option on the right-hand flank, but the amount of time he spent warming the bench last season - only five of the 20-year-old Scotsman's 25 Bundesliga appearances were starts - implies he, too, is unlikely to be top of head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl's list of candidates to man the wide positions in the Leipzig attack.

So what does that mean for Leipzig's newest recruits? Augustin, for one, is not like any player currently at Hasenhüttl's disposal. A powerful and pacy centre-forward, the 20-year-old finished top scorer as France scooped the UEFA Under-19 European Championship last summer and has already won six titles with former club Paris-Saint Germain. Supplementing the winning mentality, he also has the self-styled versatility to play across the front line.

Watch: Leipzig's tactical masterclass

"I consider myself a creator [as much as a centre-forward]," Augustin told French website onzemondial. "I don't think it matters where you play. I want to help the team across the attack".

Fellow newcomer Bruma alluded to his own malleability after making the summer move to the Red Bull Arena from Galatasarary in June but - unlike Augustin, whose strengths appear made-to-measure for an out-and-out striker's role alongside Timo Werner - the 22-year-old Portugal Under-21 international is a thoroughbred wide man.

"I'm really pleased to be here," said Bruma. "I want to do everything I can to help the team be successful this season. That means playing as much as possible. Preferably on the left, but that's the coach's decision at the end of the day. We're all fighting for a starting berth – including me."

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Bruma popped up in all manner of positions in the Turkish SuperLig last term, his 11 goals and six assists contributing to Gala's top-four finish. The right-footer favours the inverted winger treatment made famous by Robben and Ribery at record Bundesliga champions Bayern, but Forsberg's irreplaceable status on the Leipzig left effectively means there is only one wide berth to play for.

That is not intended as a slight on the likes of Sabitzer and Burke, two players who will only enhance Leipzig's prospects in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League. A profusion of versatile, interchangeable wide men - most notably Robbery - has fuelled one of the most successful eras in the history of Germany's biggest club, after all. With Leipzig's collection of wingers, perhaps it's now their turn to steal the show?

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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