The following article is extracted from the first edition of the Get German Football News 100 which comprises our selection of the top one hundred players that German football has to offer, judged on their performances in 2020.
Despite Mainz largely struggling over the course of 2020 on the whole, French attacker Jean-Phillippe Mateta has again shone in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Although the forward has struggled with injuries in recent times and largely lacked on the goalscoring front during the 2019-20 Bundesliga season, Mateta has sprung into life at the start of this current campaign. With his side looking increasingly likely to be involved in a relegation battle this season – his undoubtedly large presence upfront could prove the biggest positive in a campaign that looks set to be an uphill battle.
With 10 goals in 11 appearances by early December for Mainz across all competitions – Mateta exudes all the qualities his side currently need as they face another tough Bundesliga campaign. Still only 23-years-old, Mateta is blessed with the ability to change any game he plays in when on form. Granted the French attacker has had his fair share of significant injuries during his short career to date but with a plethora of English clubs having bids rejected for him by Mainz over the last two summers, it’s clear to see that Mateta has both the ability and potential to play at a higher level in the future.
After spells with Lyon and Le Havre in France, Mateta has begun to blossom in the south-west of Germany with Mainz. The French forward has trickery, a keen eye for goal and pace to burn and troubles even the most senior Bundesliga defenders on his day. In simple terms, Mateta shines as a modern-day centre forward – a striker that loves to live on the last defender’s shoulder to avoid the offside trap. In a relatively weak and lacklustre Mainz outfit, his return of 12 goals in 24 appearances throughout the year of 2020 is testament to how much he has developed over the past few seasons as a player. His hat-trick against Freiburg in late November was a masterclass in finishing and his clinical nature was there for all to see as he helped his side to claim a crucial three points on the road.
Over the last year in particular, the French striker has built a formidable partnership with fellow forward Robin Quaison that has been pivotal to Mainz’ stay in the Bundesliga in recent times. In short, if the side from south-west Germany are to maintain their top-flight status again this season – they’ll be relying on Mateta to produce the goods upfront again in 2021.