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PROSPECT | Jonathan Burkardt – Is the Mainz forward Germany’s next No. 9?

Germany have always been and will always be a powerhouse in world football, the current national team possesses a wealth of talent but yet one position they are arguably lacking in is an out and out striker. Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane have deputised well upfront and Timo Werner and Karim Adeyemi are pacey dynamic options going forward, however as good as these players are none are true strikers. In fact, it could be argued Germany have not had a true centre forward since Mario Gomez was at the peak of his powers.

Jonathan Burkardt is a player who could fulfil this role. The Mainz forward has nine goals this season and is rapidly developing into one of Germany’s hottest prospects when it comes to forwards.  With six goals in 15 for the Germany U21s and increasingly impressive displays in the Bundesliga, Burkardt is well on his way to developing into a top end striker.

Style of play

Burkardt is very much a poacher, only one of his seven Bundesliga goals so far has come from outside the box. The 21-year-old is by no means limited to being a poacher in the box, demonstrated by the fact that he averages nearly 18 pressures per 90, and he makes nearly 1.5 tackles per 90 – an incredibly high number for a forward. In the recent 4-1 victory vs Augsburg, Burkardt was the outstanding player on the pitch being clinical and decisive when in the final third, the German scored a powerful header and rifled in a composed left footed finish from the centre of the penalty area as well as calmly laying on the assist for Mainz’s third goal of the game. National team head coach Hansi Flick was in attendance for the game and will surely been impressed by Burkardt’s tireless performance, where he was a headache for the Augsburg defence all game.

But Burkardt is still raw and still yet to hit double figures in a season, however he is young and has plenty of time on his side. Physically Burkardt has a fierce turn of pace and has a slight frame for a striker standing at 6ft tall. Burkardt had a standout performance against Augsburg, showcasing everything he was good at – pressing willingly, finishing ruthlessly and having the awareness of when to pick out a teammate rather than pulling the trigger.

The numbers behind Burkardt’s performance

Firstly, Burkardt has a conversion rate of 32%, which is decent for a player of his age. In addition, he has outperformed his xG by 1.5 so far this season. At Mainz, he is playing in one of the weaker teams although they have had a positive start this season, with a smaller budget and yet he still manages to remain productive. 53% of Burkardt’s shots have been on target this season suggesting he makes it count when he gets chances whilst he has also completed 10 key passes. Expected assists suggest Burkardt should have four already this season compared to his actual two, this suggests Burkardt is a competent finisher as he outperforms his xG however his link up play could perhaps be improved so he can add more assists to his game – although it may be a case of his teammates simply being wasteful from his passes.

Another encouraging statistic to nail home the fact that Burkardt is a competent finisher is the fact that he has Goals per Shot on Target (G/SoT) of 0.43, indicating that he is close to scoring almost half of his shots on target which is of course very encouraging if he can maintain this level of accuracy.

While Burkardt doesn’t necessarily excel massively in any area apart from his pressing and defensive actions for a forward, the underlying stats heavily point towards Burkardt being an effective forward who will continue to maintain an impressive output if he continues and improves on his current level of performance.

U21 Goal scorers in the Bundesliga so far this season

Player

Appearances

Goals

Haaland

6

9

Wirtz

8

4

Burkardt

9

4

Szoboszlai

8

3

Musiala

8

2

What does the near future hold for Burkardt?

As touched on earlier, Burkhardt is fortunate that he plays a position in which the national team is lacking in. Timo Werner is perhaps most like Burkardt but there still remains doubt over Werner’s ability to finish and combine his work off the ball with an equal efficiency in front of goal.

With Hansi Flick in attendance for Burkardt’s last match and with Burkardt scoring 15 in 30 from the Germany U16s through to the U21s, it seems logical that he may be given his first senior call up in the remaining fixtures prior to next winter’s World Cup, with centre forward being Germany’s least stacked position amongst their immensely talented squad.

At club level, Burkardt will be focused on helping Mainz avoid a relegation battle and achieve a comfortable finish higher up in the table, from a personal level he will surely look to continue his rich vein of form and finish the season with at least double figures for goals, he’s never scored more than three in a season and turns 22 in July, although this is only his second full season in the Bundesliga.

With a current market value of 7 million euros, many Bundesliga sides who find themselves above Mainz in the table will presumably be keeping tabs on Burkardt as his price could skyrocket if he continues producing at the rate he is, especially seeing as he is arguably the most outstanding young out-and-out German striker in the Bundesliga at the moment.

Joe LanglandsStats taken via InStat, Understat & Transfermarkt.

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