For the past decade, Hamburger SV have been hitting all the headlines for all the wrong reasons. And while that is still the case, they have something to look forward to in a talented forward that goes by the name of Jann-Fiete Arp.
Born in Bad Segeberg, 50km north of the port city, Arp made the switch from his local side to Hamburg as a 10-year-old. Earmarked to reach the very top, the German has featured at every level for HSV, scoring a combined 46 goals in 52 games for the U17 and U19 setup.
Fans had called on Markus Gisdol to start Arp in the closing stages of the 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign with their lack of goals once again a cause for concern, with HSV again narrowly avoiding the relegation play-offs, beating VfL Wolfsburg on the final day.
Representing Germany at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship held in Croatia throughout May, Arp captained his side to the semi-finals before losing on penalties against eventual winners, Spain.
It was that tournament that people outside of Germany started taking note of Arp. His seven goals in the competition was second to only France’s Amine Gouiri while six of his goals came from two hat-tricks, thus becoming the first player to score two hat-tricks in a UEFA competitions at that level.
Not only is Arp getting the goals, but he’s also impressing his coaches.
“I think that as a result he can cope well with the hype around him. After all, Hamburg are already discussing whether he should be brought into the professional squad. He is intelligent and can integrate,” Germany U17 coach Christian Wück told Kicker.
“He’s performing well on the field, but also off it. In terms of his intellect and his character, he is very far ahead in comparison to others of the same age. He stands out in that way.”
As mentioned by Wück back in May, he’s capable of playing in HSV’s first team. Just months later, he was awarded his Bundesliga debut by Markus Gisdol at the tender age of 17. And not only was he awarded his Bundesliga debut, he was given it against arch rivals Werder Bremen in the Nordderby.
At this point, Arp had already signed a contract extension with HSV, keeping him at the club until 2019 following interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Bayern Munch and Premier League clubs – it’s clear just to see why elite clubs are interested in signing the young forward.
With HSV 2-0 down at Hertha BSC, Gisdol opted to replace Bobby Wood with Arp over bringing on Lewis Holtby. Just 17 minutes later Arp had his first professional goal for HSV, making him the first millennial to score in the Bundesliga, as well as becoming Hamburg’s youngest ever scorer ahead of Heung-Min Son.
A performance that deserved a start, Gisdol awarded Arp with his first 90 minutes for Hamburg in the following fixture, against VfB Stuttgart. Repaying his coach’s faith in him, the German put HSV 3-1 up against the visitors on Saturday, helping HSV to just their third win of the Bundesliga campaign.
And with two Bundesliga goals in three games, it’s hard for Gisdol and the coaching staff to now drop Arp. The youngster has performed better than André Hahn, who returned to the club from Borussia Mönchengladbach for €6m in the summer while Bobby Wood hasn’t impressed this season at all.
With a lack of goals in the current HSV XI, it’s important that Gisdol remains with his 17-year-old prodigy. And while he’s far from the finished product, Arp is certainly showing a lot of promise for someone of his age.
By Daniel Pinder.