Scouting Spotlight: Matthias Ginter, Lucas Alario, Pablo Sarabia
Scouting Spotlight looks at Matthias Ginter, who has a fan in Jurgen Klopp, as well as rising stars Lucas Alario and Pablo Sarabia ...
Matthias Ginter -- Borussia Monchengladbach
Ginter joined Borussia Dortmund from Freiburg in July 2014 after travelling to Brazil as the youngest member of Germany's World Cup-winning squad. He started 56 Bundesliga games in three seasons at the Westfalenstadion, moving to Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer after stating: "The chance to be an important player is greater for me at Gladbach than it was in Dortmund."
A composed centre-back with the passing range of a midfielder, Ginter's versatility has seen him deployed in a number of different roles for club and country. His main qualities are his technical ability and intelligence on the pitch. The 24-year-old takes up good positions, retains possession through judicious use of the ball and executes well-timed tackles.
Although he has often played at right-back for the national team, and during his time at Dortmund, Ginter sees his future in the centre of defence. "I think the time has come for me to establish myself as a centre-back," he told Bundesliga.com at the start of the season. "That's why staying in Dortmund the year before the World Cup was just too big a risk."
Ginter has played every minute for Gladbach in the Bundesliga, helping Dieter Hecking's side climb to fifth place, equal on points with Bayer Leverkusen in second. He scored the winning goal in November's 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich and was on the scoresheet again at the weekend as Die Fohlen defeated Augsburg 2-0.
After heading home the opener from a Thorgan Hazard corner in the first half, Ginter returned the favour in the 90th minute when he charged down the man in possession, won the ball back and released the Belgian to finish a late counter-attack. Ginter's anticipation exemplified his excellent reading of the game that has seen him rewarded with 17 caps for his country.
Where would he fit in?
After joining Gladbach for £15 million following his involvement in Germany's Confederations Cup victory, it seems unlikely that Ginter will be sold any time soon. Tottenham were believed to have bid for the defender before signing Davinson Sanchez, while Arsenal have been linked in the past. Liverpool boss Klopp is also an admirer, having recruited Ginter for Dortmund in 2014.
Lucas Alario -- Bayer Leverkusen
Linked to a host of clubs across Europe before joining Bayer Leverkusen in an €19m deal, Alario's debut was held up by the Argentine Football Association refusing to ratify the transfer. He was eventually granted permission to play at the end of September and has shown early promise in his first Bundesliga campaign.
After starting out at Colon, the Argentine club named after Christopher Columbus, Alario honed his predatory instinct at River Plate. The 25-year-old scored 37 goals in 74 matches to help the Buenos Aires giants win the Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana, scoring in the finals of both prestigious continental competitions.
Nicknamed "El Flaco" in his homeland owing to his skinny frame, Alario is a raw but tenacious talent in Leverkusen's attack. He likes to drop deep to link the play in the final third, although his role is more that of a traditional centre-forward.
A composed finisher on either foot, the Argentina international is adept at finding space in the box, peeling off his marker to get on the end of low crosses. He exhibits the same tireless work rate that Radamel Falcao brought with him to Europe from River Plate a decade ago, but can be guilty of ceding possession too easily at times.
Alario claimed a brace in Leverkusen's 4-1 thrashing of Hoffenheim on Saturday, after a brilliant back-heel by Leon Bailey had opened the scoring. In December he bagged the winner against Werder Bremen with another typical poacher's finish.
A tally of six strikes in 12 matches in all competitions is an encouraging return, with the Argentine looking to progress in the second half of the season to cement Leverkusen's hold on a Champions League place.
Where would he fit in?
Liverpool, Tottenham and West Brom were all credited with an interest in Alario before he pitched up in the Bundesliga and he has the physical qualities to be a success in England. He can often go to ground at the first hint of contact, however, which would no doubt be pulled up by irate Premier League managers.
Pablo Sarabia -- Sevilla
Sarabia spent seven years in the youth setup at Real Madrid, but left for Getafe in 2011 with just one senior appearance to his name. He joined Sevilla in 2016 following Getafe's relegation, enjoying a fine debut season at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
An energetic attacking midfielder, Sarabia is often at his best when cutting in from the right wing on his favoured left foot. He has played across the front line for Sevilla this season, however, as Jorge Sampaoli's successors, Eduardo Berizzo, who was sacked in December, and Vincenzo Montella, have experimented with his position.
With quick feet and a low centre of gravity, the 25-year-old can dribble either side of the full-back, delivering dangerous crosses or coming in-field to slide incisive through-balls to his teammates.
Sarabia has the positioning sense to find pockets of space between midfield and attack, and can be surprisingly effective in the air, scoring fine headers against Espanyol and Leicester, in the Champions League, last season.
Following an impressive first campaign in Seville, which yielded eight goals and eight assists in La Liga despite Sarabia starting only 22 matches, the Spaniard's form dipped after Sampaoli's departure. He found the net only once before January -- with a brilliant 25-yard strike against Leganes -- but has shown signs of a revival recently under new manager Montella.
Sarabia demonstrated flashes of his ability in Sevilla's 3-0 win at Espanyol on Saturday, finishing a mazy run with his right foot in the first half and then registering an assist for Luis Muriel -- although the striker did all the hard work to claim his fourth of the season.
He was also influential in Tuesday's Copa del Rey victory over Atletico Madrid, sealing Sevilla's progression to the semifinals with a late, lung-bursting drive from midfield and low finish into the corner.
Where would he fit in?
Arsenal and Watford were tracking the midfielder before his move to Sevilla, with Sarabia confirming the Gunners' interest and saying the Premier League appeals to him. If he can rediscover his form on a consistent basis, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the former Spain under-21 international emerge as a target for Liverpool following Philippe Coutinho's exit.
Matthew Stanger covers European football for ESPN and is the editor of The Set Pieces. Twitter: @MatthewStanger