Yunus Malli (c.) will wear the number ten shirt for new club Wolfsburg. - © © imago / regios24
Yunus Malli (c.) will wear the number ten shirt for new club Wolfsburg. - © © imago / regios24

Malli and Wolfsburg 'aiming to take the next step' together

It was 14:20CET on Thursday afternoon when Yunus Malli's career at 1. FSV Mainz 05 came to an end. The Turkey international departed his club's winter training camp in Estepona and travelled north up the Spanish coast to La Manga, where VfL Wolfsburg are preparing for the second half of the Bundesliga season.

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"It all happened quite quickly," said Malli after putting pen to paper on a deal running until 2021 with Wolfsburg. "I sort of had to go with my gut instinct."

Since leaving the Borussia Mönchengladbach academy at 19 to join Mainz, Malli has developed into one of the Bundesliga's finest attacking midfielders. Now 24, he has already scored six top-flight goals this season and laid on a further half-dozen.

"It's always been my aim to be one of the top scorers in the Bundesliga," Malli said. It is, however, now Wolfsburg for whom he will be hoping to find the back of the net, and no longer the club that formed him as a footballer.

- © gettyimages / Alex Grimm

"I wanted to take the next step in my career," said Malli. "Wolfsburg aren't really where they belong at the moment. It was always obvious that if I left Mainz, it would only be for a top-six club. That's where Wolfsburg belong and that's why this is the next step in my development. There are plenty more games to climb back up the table. Things can change quickly in football."

How Malli helps Wolfsburg return to the top six is an intriguing question. He has made an active decision to take the number ten shirt at the Volkswagen Arena, a number that was vacant after the departure of Julian Draxler to French side Paris Saint-Germain.

"It was important for me to have this number," Malli said. "I see it as a motivation and not as a burden. My strengths are best used in the number ten position."

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- © imago / regios24