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Spotlight on…Lewis Holtby

In this edition of the ‘Spotlight on…’ series, Sport Report returns to Germany and runs the rule over Schalke and Germany’s attacking midfielder Lewis Holtby.

Mention the name Lewis Holtby outside of Germanyand you are likely to be greeted with puzzled expressions. The young German is far from a household name at this early stage of his career but if he is able to continue the form he has shown in his short time as a Bundesliga regular, it will not be long until he is.

Born to an English father and German mother in Erkelenz near Cologne, Holtby joined the Borussia Mönchengladbach youth set-up at the age of 11. Despite the young winger’s obvious natural talent and technical ability, the club’s coaching staff decided that he was too slow and too small to succeed at the highest level and so released him. Undeterred by rejection in Mönchengladbach, Holtby joined nearby Alemannia Aachen, for whom he made his first team debut aged 17. The attacking midfielder found his feet with the Kartoffelkäfer and after 33 appearances and eight goals, he was sold to Schalke for a fee of €3.75 million in July 2009. The move, to one of the country’s biggest and most prestigious clubs, was testament to Holtby’s talent and performances in Aachen.

Schalke opted to loan out Holtby to allow him to build up experience and so he joined VFL Bochum. The youngster impressed in what was in truth a poor team, but with Schalke possessing a strong squad, he was once again loaned out for the duration of the 2010/11 season, this time to Thomas Tuchel’s FSV Mainz 05. Holtby has again turned in a string of highly impressive performances, helping Mainz secure a place in next season’s Europa League and bagging three goals along the way. More notably still, he has demonstrated his ability to play incisive accurate passes as he has racked up eight assists in the league alone. Having taken note of his performances for the Karnevalsverein, parent club Schalke has announced that he is to return to the Veltins Arena at the end of the season where he will look to join fellow young talents Julian Draxler, Kyrgiakos Papadopoulos and Joel Matip in the first team. If he, and the others, can fulfil their potential, the Königsblauen could very well become a force for years to come.

Lewis Holtby in action for Mainz (This image is the property of EPA)

Holtby will also look to break in to the German national team on a permanent basis having made his debut in a friendly against Sweden in November last year. He is still eligible for England, but having stated his desire to play for the country in which he was born, it is likely we will see him become a regular in Joachim Löw’s team.

Whilst he is predominantly left footed, Holtby is more than comfortable on either foot and can play through the middle or as an out and out winger. He belongs to something of a golden generation for Germany which includes fellow midfielders Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Toni Kroos. Holtby does not provide the goal throat offered by those three, but his strength lies in his footballing brain. He has the gifts of wonderful vision and the ability to pick the right pass, as shown by his eight assists this season. The 20 year old is not the quickest player, but he is able to beat defenders with skill and trickery before supplying the kind of crosses of which strikers dream. If he can add goals to his game, he will be well on the way to becoming an all-round attacking midfielder and, potentially, one of Europe’s hottest properties.

As captain of Germany’s under-21s, we can expect Holtby to star at this summer’s under-21 European Championship. If he performs well and breaks through to the senior side,England may just rue his decision to reject their overtures in favour of Germany.

Lewis Holtby

Name: Lewis Holtby

Place of Birth: Erkelenz,West Germany (nowGermany)

Nationality: German

Date of Birth: 18th September 1990

Career League Appearances: 85

Career League Goals: 14

Total Career Appearances: 91

Total Career Goals: 16

International Caps: 1

International Goals: 0

Key Attributes: skilful, excellent close control, ability to pick the right pass

Categories: Football
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