Hoffenheim's Joelinton scored his first Bundesliga double on Matchday 10, against Bayer Leverkusen. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA
Hoffenheim's Joelinton scored his first Bundesliga double on Matchday 10, against Bayer Leverkusen. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Joelinton: Roberto Firmino's Brazilian successor at Hoffenheim, and MD10's Man of the Matchday


A pacy, hard-working Brazilian striker with a keen eye for goal at Hoffenheim? No, it's not Roberto Firmino - but Joelinton could well follow in his compatriot's footsteps under the guidance of Julian Nagelsmann.

His performance against Bayer Leverkusen on Bundesliga Matchday 10 suggests as much. The 22-year-old scored twice and won a penalty in an impressive 4-1 win, taking his tally for the season to four goals and three assists in 10 matches.

Nagelsmann's decision to bring the Brazilian in from the cold following a two-year loan spell in Austria with Rapid Vienna - rather than looking elsewhere for reinforcements following the departures of Mark Uth and Serge Gnabry in July, as well as Sandro Wagner's January move to Bayern Munich - has been fully vindicated.

"We prepared very well and then we implemented everything that the coach asked of us," Joelinton said after bringing up his first Bundesliga double. "We controlled the game very well in possession and ultimately we deserved to win. I was absolutely delighted and very happy with my two goals. It's nice to be able to help your team. We simply have a good team and a good coach. I've learnt even more here."

After all, Nagelsmann has earned a reputation as something of a player whisperer, a man able to tickle the very best out of his charges. Niklas Süle, Wagner and Kerem Demirbay all became full Germany internationals on his watch, the former duo even improving to such an extent that Bayern signed them – along with another Nagelsmann alumni, Sebastian Rudy, now of Schalke.

Clearly, then, Joelinton must have something about him to have caught Nagelsmann's attention. "He's become a very good player," said the Hoffenheim tactician of the 6'1" forward the club signed to a five-year deal from Sport Recife in 2015. "He was always very talented but he's developed a lot during his time in Austria. He's a big guy and is awkward to defend against. He's very inquisitive and able to learn."

Watch: Joelinton ready to rock the Bundesliga

Like Firmino, who is four years his senior, Joelinton was born and raised in eastern Brazil, just a couple of hours from the port city of Recife. And as was the case with Firmino, he has needed some time to adjust to life and playing in Europe.

The Liverpool forward may be feared throughout world football now, but initially he took a while to get going after moving to Hoffenheim in January 2011 and did not score until his sixth league outing. Overall he made 74 Bundesliga appearances in his first two and a half seasons in Germany, managing 15 goals and seven assists in those formative years at the club.

By way of contrast, Joelinton, who, like Firmino plays more as a second striker, registered a similarly respectable return of 21 goals and nine assists in 79 competitive fixtures for Rapid.


The ex-Rapid man has also shown that he has a taste for the big occasion. On Matchday 4 he scored the opening goal against high-flying Borussia Dortmund, who required an 84th-minute equaliser from Christian Pulisic to avoid their first defeat of the season. And he kept Hoffenheim's hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stage alive with a last-gasp leveller at home to Lyon in late October.

There is little doubt, then, that Joelinton has the right ingredients to shine in the Bundesliga. And having already won over Nagelsmann, it appears it will only be a matter of time before he moves out of Firmino's shadow and starts casting one of his own.

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